It is always a great pleasure to feel that one is close to a source of inspiration, the artist, and their imagination – indeed it is a privilege.
The 2021 winter exhibition, Jeu d’esprit sets out to reflect this in the beautiful work our artists have made for us, and in their carefully chosen words.
The artists represented in Jeu d’esprit include: Svend Bayer, Hélène Binet, Carina Ciscato, Prue Cooper, Steffen Dam, Pippin Drysdale, Akiko Hirai, Edward Hughes, Chris Keenan, Miyu Kurihara, Lucie Rie, Rupert Spira, Miranda Thomas, Matthew Warner, Gregory Warren Wilson, Philip Wood and Yali Glass. We are very pleased to be introducing three new artists, Oldrich Asenbryl, Edgar Campden, and Kate Windibank.
Asenbryl worked at Aldermaston Pottery for two years in the late 1960s. He was inspired by the bright colours and lustres of the works of Alan Caiger-Smith. An expert thrower, his pieces combine gravitas and a lively exuberance.
Svend is best known for his magnificent amphorae and his domestic ware. His work is always strong in form and he has modified the long wood firings he undertakes to produce wonderful, deep and sophisticated glaze effects. We are lucky enough to have some of his pots from the last firing of his anagama kiln in Devon.
For Jeu d’esprit, Hélène celebrates her free approach to composition, far removed from her renowned architectural images. With a sensitive and exacting eye for framing and details, she imposes strength, balanced by quietude through her use of black and white film stock. Hélène captures the fortitude of the human spirit within the stillness of time, light, objects, and construction. She has a solo show at the Royal Academy of Art which runs until 23rd January, 2022.
Edgar is in the school of Alan Caiger-Smith with his flowing brushwork and shimmering lustres on tin-glazed earthenware. Producing enticing hand decorated pieces, his designs are both elegant and timeless.
Carina has found a unique language in her work using a mixture of throwing, disassembling and reconstructing. Her work is architectural while capturing the fluidity of clay as she masterfully alters and re-assembles the thrown forms with a natural sense of balance, form and material. Jeu d’esprit has some wall hanging pieces and her new tubular series which are intended to be curated as you wish.
Prue Cooper’s work celebrates the sharing of simple pleasures. She finds inspiration in poems and literature. Prue likes to think that her delightfully titled dishes cost no more than dinner out for two people! One of her favourite quotations is: “He that shuns trifles shuns the world” – from George Chapman (the translator of Homer).
We are delighted to be showing new work by the celebrated Danish glass artist, Steffen Dam. These groups of Marine Jars inspired by natural science, entrance the viewer, drawing us in to marvel at the intricacy of the glass.
The work involved in creating each element of his work of art is planned to the smallest detail, but with room for an element of randomness, which is so important to Steffen. He always works ‘with’ the glass in an attempt to lure out its inherent character, but the processing of it is very assured as he pulls, pinches, burns, drills, cuts and polishes the glass until it has precisely the finish he desires.
Pippin Drysdale’s work evokes a timeless and breath-taking sense of space and place, articulating the mesmerising vastness of colour experienced in the unique Australian landscape. The landscape is the ever-constant lure, the catalyst for making, the connecting point and anchor for each new development in her practice.
She works solely in porcelain sometimes inlaid with intense colour, at other times with metallic lustres. Her installations of vessels and marbles are ambitious, negotiating interweaving journeys through various landscapes. Through a continuing investigation of the flora and terrain of unique areas of the Outback and a commitment to engaging with the cultural, social and political agendas that are shaping them, she embraces each new creative challenge with vigour.
Akiko mixes the traditional with the contemporary in her ceramics. She uses wood ash and clay in her treatment of surfaces. Each piece is unique and only she could have made it. Hirai allows the clay to determine its own voice and language.
When asked to respond to the theme of Jeu d’esprit, Chris answered “the game is everything”. His playful yet refined works are a joy to hold and touch. Chris’s pots are instantly recognisable. He specialises in celadon and tenmoku glazes.
Miyu throws and makes pinch pots. She is inspired by both Japanese kimono design and traditional motifs originating from China and Japan.
Miyu presents her hand built pinch pots which contrast well with the simple geometric designs on her porcelain flower vases. She decorates her forms with cobalt brushwork featuring charming birds and chrysanthemums.
For Jeu d’esprit, Miranda has created work inspired by the joy of life, whether that is near the ocean, walking in the woods or in the garden at her home in Vermont. Recently, one of Miranda’s Peace Bowls was gifted to Pope Francis at the Vatican by U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
“In the Antarctic southern oceans, off and on the shores of the island of South Georgia, nothing could prepare me for the joy in seeing the abundance of life surrounding me. For the first time I saw animals and birds so spirited in their environment. They were free to live life, as they were evolved to live, for millennia without human beings. We were intruders. The Gentoo penguins were bursting with character and energy. The king penguins gathering by the tens of thousands, broke off in groups, in highly social situations. Albatrosses soared high above our heads as salp floated, collecting in the crystal-clear waters. All whilst the whales and seals literally frolicked in the seas around our boat. All of this confirmed in me, my own spirit, my own love of life. I cannot contain myself; I am no minimalist. I want to express the joy, the beauty of it all. Whether near the oceans, walking in the woods or in the garden at home in Vermont, I am trying to capture the very essence of being alive. It is a gift. These days more than ever.”
Matthew creates elegant hand-thrown functional tableware. Drawing on a rich palette of transparent coloured glazes, each piece is precisely made and a joy to use. For Jeu d’esprit we are showing a selection of thrown stoneware teacups and saucers, each with individually modelled handles, and a pair of lidded jars which become candlesticks when their lids are inverted.
Gregory’s innovative work in glass is the culmination of twenty-five years of design. He balances colour in such a way that each design appears definitively resolved, while at the same time maintaining its asymmetry.
The tesserae he uses come from Murano in Venice. By working on multiple layers of glass set within deep frames, he enables light to interact spatially with the glass, making his work sculptural in its concerns. The refracted light scintillates in brilliantly colourful, subtle, and unpredictable ways. His most recent work is a series of responses to Venice by night and Venice by day.
Kate’s work is inspired by geological formation and erosion. For this body of work, she asks the question, “Do stones feel?” It is both a question that fits with the ethos of her work and the title of one of her favourite poems by Mary Oliver.
Her process begins when soft clay is torn, then pressed into moulds, once firm, the clay is broken into shards and used to create fragmented forms. As the pieces are constructed ceramic oxides are embedded into the crevasses of the clay. Later, when the work is fired and the heat-work of the kiln turns the clay to stone, these oxides are drawn to the surface, reacting with glaze to create movement and texture that remains permanently frozen on the surface of the vessel.
Philip crafts each piece with extraordinary dedication. He makes his own enamel and turns his own wooden lids from Monterey Pine, Wellingtonia and apple wood. In his own words, his pieces are “Small yes, quiet yes, useful yes but with subtle and lasting interest that grows over time.”
Marie-Rose Kahane’s passion for glass and design is informed by working and living in Venice, making it possible for her to look at different types of glass from the Renaissance to the contemporary work of Carlo Scarpa. Vital to Yali are the very talented and committed glass artisans of Murano.
We are delighted to be presenting a small selection of signature works by the late Edward Hughes. Regarded as one of Britain’s finest potters, his pieces are highly sought after, both here and in Japan. Edward slip decorated work with wood ash obtained locally in Cumbria.
Lucie Rie was a pioneer of the Modern British Ceramic wares. Her pieces are celebrated for their elegant forms, sophisticated glazes and distinct aesthetic.
Her earliest English works were ceramic buttons, brooches and table-wares. After the war, Lucie was free to develop her infallible sense of style.
The skill of throwing on a potter’s wheel is the basis of Rupert Spira’s work. Having been the apprentice to some major ceramic artists he sets very high standards in the craft of his art – making things larger and with extraordinary attention to detail than one might anticipate.
John Ward is best known for his black and white hand-built vessels which embodies a marrying of harmonious lines with strong geometric designs. His influences are evident from ancient pre-glaze pottery of China, Egypt, early Cypriot and early Persian pottery.
Open 10.00am – 5.00pm, Tuesday – Saturday
For a private viewing with Joanna, please call +44 (0) 208 995 9960 or email to arrange.
If you are driving, please avoid Hartington Road, as there is a penalty charge for non-residents passing through.
We hope that you have enjoyed the exhibition and experienced the play of the spirits in Jeu d’esprit, imparted by the artists.
We would like to thank all the artists and photographer Alick Cotterill.
With all good wishes,
Joanna and team