ART IN CLAY, HATFIELD (1)

Art in Clay, the pottery fair at Hatfield House, is one of the major events in the ceramics calendar and I have made it a habit to feature a few of my favourite exhibitors each year. It’s difficult: there are almost two hundred and many of them are very good indeed, including some of the best in the country. I select those that appeal to me because of their craft and because they have something to say. Some are original but some refer to well-known pottery traditions. I also like to present contrasting work. This year I have included portraits of the artists as well, except in the first example, where the maker did not want her appearance to detract from her art.

Art in Clay is under new ownership, Andy and Di McInnes having sold the show to Valentine’s Clay, but I found them in the organisers’ tent, busy as ever. Valentine’s have invested in a well-illustrated programme and the website has been revamped.

CHANTAL FORDHAM

Chantal’s ceramics (top) recall Malevitch’s Suprematist paintings of a hundred years ago but I don’t know if this is a conscious reference to the October Revolution because what we talked about was the way the coloured buttons on her pots can be jiggled about. She wants her ceramics to move and for the viewer to interact with them. Here is something original in pottery yet rooted in a familiar episode of Modernism. 

JONATHAN CHISWELL-JONES

Jonathan asked to be photographed with a large dish that he’s particularly proud of at the moment, this charger with a pomegranate pattern and round the rim the William Blake verse “He that binds to himself a joy does the wingéd life destroy.”  Jonathan’s pottery combines excellence in making, glazing and decoration. As you can see from the jugs on the shelf behind him, his shapes are elegant and well-balanced. He uses the method of reduced lustre, one of the most challenging, attempted by not more than a handful of potters in the UK. Jonathan works in the tradition of William de Morgan, Bernard Moore and William Burton, but whereas their potteries separated the work of designer, thrower, decorator and kiln operator, Jonathan is responsible for everything. I am pleased to see a modern potter keeping alive the tradition of the Art Pottery of c.1900, at which most studio potters turn up their noses.

DAVID WRIGHT



David is helped unfailingly at these shows by his wife Laura, so I had to include her in the photo. David constructs his pots without a wheel. His most recent line is the spiraled pots you can see on the front of the bench. There is a Far Eastern influence in his work as shown, for example, by the Japanese-style shino glazes he uses on some of his pots. The carving puts one in mind of the perfect little Yi Xing teapots from the town of that name, also made without a wheel. Take a moment to look at David’s stall, which is immaculately constructed and finished. He used to be an exhibition designer. The standard of stall dressing goes up along with the standard of pottery at top shows like this.

Three more potters tomorrow.

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