A Fine Line: Modern Makers at Pitzhanger

8th May – 4th August 2024

Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery, Ealing Green, London W5 5EQ

(10 minutes from the Elizabeth line, Ealing Broadway Station)

Please call +44 (0)20 8995 9960 or email info@joannabird.com to enquire

JOANNA BIRD is delighted to present the current exhibition, A Fine Line: Modern Makers at Pitzhanger, open from 8th May to 4th August 2024.

The exhibition will take place at Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery, Ealing Green, London W5 5EQ (10 minutes from the Elizabeth line).

“This is a microscopic moment in time to reflect on Sir John Soane’s interests, his vision and his innovative ideas. I have chosen work that I think would amuse him, were he alive today. One of his gifts was the element of surprise: this will be the theme running through the exhibition.”
Joanna Bird

Artists: Emmanuel Boos, Prue Cooper, Steffen Dam, Joseph Harrington, Hanne Heuch, Tom Perkins, William Plumptre, Nicholas Rena, Judith Rowe, Matthew Warner and Gregory Warren Wilson.

For more information, call us on 020-8995-9960 or email info@joannabird.com

Artists listed in alphabetical order

Emmanuel Boos

EMMANUEL BOOS studied under the renowned potter Jean Girel in France, after which he completed his PhD ‘The poetics of Glaze’ at the RCA and was then invited to take up a residency with Sèvres. By exploring the possibilites of both brick and cobblestone forms, Boos steps boldly into the arena of Soane’s practice. Bricks were the everyday, uncelebrated material underpinning every project. Boos has discovered how versatile porcelain bricks can become with unusual treatment such as being dropped from a height in their raw state, and arranged in different, playful combinations. With the addition of his ravishing glazes he lifts them into the realm of conceptual art. Boos is an obvious contender for this exhibition; he is also a finalist in the coveted Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2024, the winner to be announced in May.

Prue Cooper

PRUE COOPER trained as a painter, and spent twenty years dealing in eighteenth and nineteenth century drawings before deciding to go back to making. Cooper’s dishes are meant to be used and enjoyed; slip decorated press-moulded earthenware is an approachable and friendly medium. The designs reflect her view of life, celebrating friendship and the sharing of simple pleasures. Some dishes have inscriptions which are integral to the whole design both in form and meaning. Her colours are her trademark, as are the quotations she chooses which are witty and apt. Soane would have applauded her.

Steffen Dam

STEFFEN DAM has been working with glass for more than 35 years. He originally trained as a toolmaker, and the precision he was taught in constructing industrial tools proved invaluable when he began to work in glass. As a glass master, Steffen uses many different techniques, demonstrated here in this complex specimen block which is extremley advanced technically. It is quietly meditative – while his two fossil-like fish creatures captured in single glass blocks are lively and dashing.

Steffen discovered a new kind of beauty in the fringes of the well-crafted glass he was making. In the area of mistakes and faults – the unwanted air bubbles, ash marks, soot, cracks and crookedness – he has found something that cannot be predicted or sketched beforehand. He set aside established and traditional techniques and started making glass all “wrong” in an attempt to capture the good in the bad. Out of these experiments have emerged the “Fossils”, “Plants” and other objects – like frozen extracts of chaos to be watched undisturbed.

Joseph Harrington

JOSEPH HARRINGTON is a sculptor working predominantly in cast glass. He won ‘Best in Show’ at the 2017 British Glass Biennale, a gold medal at the Bavarian State Prize in 2018 and had his work has been acquired by the V&A Museum, London.

Harrington’s conceptual use of glass is unique. He discovered the lost ice process, using salt to degrade large ice blocks into a state where he can carve a one-off ephemeral model from which he takes a direct cast. The textures this produces are intriguing and the inner life of the glass, once coloured, reveals layers of fusion and quasi-geological formations. The final process is to polish some planes to contrast with the rougher texture.

Hanne Heuch

HANNE HEUCHE is a Norwegian artist who works in a large factory in Fredrikstad, where electrical insulating components are made and fired for industry. Heuch slip casts her porcelain forms, then glazes them with highly reflective white glaze inside, and on the outside she freely decorates by spraying on abstract layers of matt glaze – influenced by the skies and landscapes of her country. When the piece is being fired in the kiln, the glazes inside and out mature at different temperatures so that the rim of the bowl curves in an unpredictable way. She signs her work with the factory’s stamp and her own. This collaboration between the artist and factory is a revival of Josiah Wedgewood’s innovative practice which Soane would have been aware of.

Tom Perkins

TOM PERKINS, a celebrated letter engraver, has made two stone carvings from his series, Variations on the Letter ‘O’. They are made to be sited either indoors or outdoors, and are currently exhibited in the Colonnade.

As a bibliophile, Soane was lucky enough to be the owner of rare and prestigious editions such as Goethe’s Faust, published in 1828, with lithographic plates by Delacroix which is now regarded as one of the supreme illustrated books of the world.

Tom’s work would have chimed with Soane’s predilection for designing his inscriptions on his own drawings – in such a way that they resembled a carved inscription in stone.

William Plumptre

Born in 1959 and following his ceramic design studies at Chelsea College of Art, WILLIAM PLUMPTRE travelled to Japan and continued his learning with various potters in Japan, most importantly the Japanese National Treasure, Tatsuzo Shimaoka. He returned to England and established his first pottery in 1987. Since 1994, Plumptre has been working from his studio housed in a seventeenth century farmhouse in the Lake District.

Plumptre’s glazes are primarily made from local materials including wood ash and granite, and then reduction fired. The strength and beauty of his work lies in the balance of form and colour influenced by the Japanese aesthetic. Soane would have appreciated Plumptre’s sensitive response to materiality and environement.

Nicholas Rena

NICHOLAS RENA is renowned for making vessels of quite extraordinary beauty and presence. His bold poetic forms have a striking simplicity and potency. Ideas of ritual, the human body and features of architectural space all find a logical unity within his vessel forms. The interplay between line, edge, interior and exterior has become more complex and pushed Rena into the forefront of a new generation of artists exploring fresh possibilities with the language of abstraction.

Rena’s piece ‘Green Remembrance’ exhbited in the upper drawing room was previously shown in ‘Marking the Line: ceramics and architecture’, at Sir John Soane’s Museum in 2013. Rena has chosen Georgian colours for this circular slip cast vessel which culminates in a soft square form.

Judith Rowe

Working by the sea in Hastings, artist and potter JUDITH ROWE makes a wide range of earthenware. Judith has established nature as the central motif which permeates her work both metaphorically and literally. Rowe’s slipware tea plates contain delicate brush work depicting cow parsley, forget-me-nots and campions.

Rowe decorates her earthenware using oxides and paints that mirror the greens, greys and blues of the sea and surrounding landscape. Her plates could well have been used for Soane’s afternoon tea, following the eight-mile walk which he often enjoyed from his house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields to Pitzhanger for the weekend.

Matthew Warner

MATTHEW WARNER completed his BA at Camberwell College of Art in 2010, before going on to study under Julian Stair as a QEST Scholar. He is a natural potter; his throwing is light and strong – his glazes are soft and sophisticated.

His work takes inspiration from the 18th-century potter Josiah Wedgwood, and seeks to explore how perceptions of status and luxury are reinforced through objects. He is particularly interested in the social connotations of pots throughout history, and in how they have been deployed to promote ideas of class, power, and even moral understanding.

Recently Matthew has researched traditional forms from Greece, China and Korea sold to collectors in the 17th and 18th century. His lively combinations reveal their contrasting forms and relationships.

Gregory Warren Wilson

GREGORY WARREN WILSON’s brilliantly colourful and innovative work in glass plays with the translucent nature of the material. Each piece is conceived on multiple layers – sometimes as many as seven – and these layers allow light to interact with the glass spatially, penetrating the depths within each frame. The designs he makes sparkle and scintillate, and they appear to move as you look at them.

Warren’s piece ‘Eternity in an Hour’ from William Blake’s ‘Auguries of Innocence’ – ‘Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand and Eternity in an Hour’, has been made especially for this exhibition and is part of a series of abstract work comprising many layers of glass, some of which are dichroic. Soane would have been amazed by this scientific breakthrough in glass. He could never have imagined it as a strong and stress-bearing architectural material.

We hope that you have enjoyed the virtual exhibition ‘A Fine Line: Modern Makers at Pitzhanger’. We look forward to seeing those of you who are able to come at Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery.

We would like to thank all the artists, photographers Alick Cotterill and Sylvain Deleu and the team at Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery.