Scottish Design: Cast, Thrown and Moulded Ceramics
In the second part of our survey of Scottish ceramics we meet five more ceramicists whose work contributes to this remarkably fertile scene
Walsh lives and works in Edinburgh where she has developed a practice that pushes the boundaries of ceramics and glass. Her work has been purchased for major public collections including the V&A London and National Museums Scotland. In 2017, her significant profile in the UK and internationally was further raised when she was one of twelve finalists in the BBC Radio 4/V&A Museum/Crafts Council ‘Woman’s Hour Craft Prize’.
Contained Boxes is her most recent series of work with glass used in combination with fine bone china as she describes, “celebrating their shared material qualities of purity and translucency.” In each piece the vessel is kiln cast in glass, forming an individual vitrine, which cradles a small ceramic box within. Intimate in scale, the work “embraces tactile investigation due to its form, size and proportion and evokes a response akin to jewellery, eliciting the desire to hold and to cherish.”
A solo exhibition of Walsh’s work is on show at The Scottish Gallery from 2 May-2 June.
The Jono Smart online pottery shop often sells out of new pieces within minutes, making their simultaneously rugged and refined work even more highly prized. Smart’s engaging writing about his practice has attracted a loyal following – numbering well over 80,000 on Instagram – of fellow potters, aficionados and customers. Snippets reveal his meticulous and thoughtful approach: “The way the glazes break around any sharp edges such as the rim and handle is a really beautiful part of pottery that can’t be recreated any other way. I still mix the clay that the glaze goes over to as closely match the glaze colour as possible. That’s a lot of extra work for something that only shows on the base of the piece but I think it’s worthwhile.”
His Glasgow studio is run in collaboration with his partner Emily Stephen. They describe their studio as a showcase of the things they make, their home, their neighbourhood and the Scottish landscape.
Recent Gray’s School of Art graduate Scott Crawford is based at Many Studios in Glasgow. Items in production currently include carafes, sculptural dishes and vases with both wearable pieces and larger interior homewares planned for the near future. Working almost entirely in Parian clay – a self glazing body – means the designer does not require a further layer of glaze “and I can leave all pieces as minimal and as true to form as possible. I look to follow simple but attractive forms when creating pieces.”
Crawford draws his inspiration from Scottish architecture, Scandinavian minimalist interior design and the principles of Brutalism. It is striking that more widely, an appreciation for the highly crafted techniques of 1960s Brutalist architecture has come back into fashion at just about the same time as ceramics have. With a keen interest in architecture and interior design Crawford is keen to collaborate with like-minded designers on new projects.
Patterson is a Glasgow-based ceramicist designing and making thrown stoneware. Her work references Victorian pharmaceutical and preserving bottles, 17th century Dutch paintings of domestic interiors and the still lifes of Giorgio Morandi. Patterson’s interest in the domestic – in particular its objects, rituals and rhythms – has inspired the gently abstracted forms of her wheel thrown pieces. These are assembled and arranged into ‘functional still lifes’, investigating the point at which an object or collection of objects can be both familiar and distinctive.
“The visual appearance and coherence of the collection as a whole is as important to me as how each individual piece feels to hold and to use – in terms of proportion, materiality and balance. The act of making by hand is an integral part of the creative process for me. Every item is made individually and stamped with a makers mark and year of production."
Shaw’s current work HARVEST is a large-scale installation focusing on the environmental tipping point of plastic pollution in the oceans and seas. HARVEST is an entirely ceramic collection of press moulded fish and slip cast versions of plastic containers. Smoke firing has been used to give a nuanced array of surface colours and patterns.
“I started making this work long before Blue Planet catapulted this issue into the media spotlight at last. I really wanted to make a piece of work that was aesthetically arresting as well as unashamedly emotive. One of the reasons I made HARVEST in small multiples was that it was the only way to make large-scale, really impactful work now I have my baby son. Also the piece just had to be about quantity. To give a sense of the overwhelming and unstoppable proportion of the plastic pollution problem.”
Exhibited at Edinburgh’s Custom Lane in April, HARVEST appeared at Hampstead Affordable Art Fair in London 10-13 May and will appear at The Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther over the summer.
Scroll on to read part one of our look at the Scottish ceramic design scene