Joanna Bird is delighted to be presenting work drawing on a wide variety of art and craft disciplines: sculptural ceramics, letter carving in slate, lanterns, basketry, as well as objects intended for outdoor occasions – jugs for lemonade, carafes, glasses, ceramic vessels, linen and gelato spoons.
The Gallery’s garden is well established, having been designed thirty-five years ago by the celebrated landscape architect Simon Irvine. It provides an ideal setting for this exhibition, and the artists included have responded with outstanding originality to the inspiration offered by natural form, and by elements fundamental to garden design: proportion, form, light, and nature itself.
Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener at Great Dixter, has generously offered a selection of specialist plants from Dixter, some of which have been planted in the garden. A bench and hurdles from Great Dixter will also be exhibited, made entirely from wood grown in the surrounding woodlands. We are pleased to announce that on July 14th Fergus will be presenting two lectures in the Gallery, entitled Designing with Plants the Great Dixter Way, one at 6:00 p.m. and the other at 7.30 p.m. There will be a chance to see the exhibition before and after the lectures.
Also included in the events will be conversations with Joanna Bird on July 16th by Adam Buick and on July 28th with Akiko Hirai and Jason Collingwood, disussing their different practices.
The artists include: Clive Bowen, Adam Buick, Karen Bunting, Halima Cassell, Carina Ciscato, Florian Gadsby, Akiko Hirai, Joe Hogan, James Oughtibridge, Tom Perkins, Chris Prindl, Judith Rowe, Katie Spragg, Kaori Tatebayashi, Gregory Warren Wilson, Yali Glass.
Making both individual one-off vessels and groups of pots, Florian complements his simple forms with delicate glazes which have crystalline structures.
He has learned thoroughly how to throw with efficiency and skill, constantly striving for sensibility and functionality in his work, the execution of which he undoubtedly learned as an apprentice under Lisa Hammond MBE for three years and Ken Matsuzaki for a year in Mashiko, Japan.
Katie is a ceramicist who creates unique hand-made sculptures which explore the simple pleasure of being outside in nature. Through investigating the ways in which nature continues to thrive within a dominant urban reality, her work offers the viewer a constructed, pastoral space in which to daydream; evoking distant, and even half-imagined memories. The contrasting compositions play on the conflict between our sublime fantasy of nature and the often more mundane reality of our experience of it.
Akiko makes practical ware using the Japanese tradition of allowing the clay to show how it wants to be fired itself. She uses specially sourced wood ash, sometimes given to her by contemporaries. These are responsible for the extraordinary shifting colours across her work, from deep olive glazes to the palest blues.
Her work also allows the viewers to find out the language of the objects in their own ways. Through this unique approach to ceramic work, she focuses on the interaction between the objects and the viewers.
Gregory Warren Wilson’s recent 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.
Much of the tesserae glass he uses comes 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.
Adam uses the Moon Jar form as a canvas to map observations from an ongoing study of his surroundings, incorporating stone and locally dug clay into the work to create a narrative that conveys a unique sense of place. The use of local materials is integral to his work, reflecting a personal relationship with landscape, the materials within it and his past experiences from where materials were collected.
The unexpected nuances in each piece, resulting from direct contact with ash and flame in a wood-fired kiln, reinforce the connection between Adam’s work, the natural environment and the unique processes that shape the landscape.
Carina’s work has exponentially grown in confidence and moved in exciting new architectural directions. Carina’s work captures the fluidity of clay as she masterfully alters and re-assembles the thrown forms with a natural sense of balance, form and material. Her latest work is in clay covered with oxides with a clear matt glaze.
Halima Cassell works primarily in bronze and clay, creating large-scale geometric sculptures. Her outstandingly original work fuses her Asian heritage with a fascination for African pattern work and a passion for architectural geometry. The pieces she produces are intense yet playful, structured yet creative, substantial yet dynamic. Her work is always visually compelling.
Combining strong geometric elements with recurrent patterns and architectural principles, Halima’s sculpture integrates curvaceous lines and dramatic angles. She concentrates on simple forms, producing contrasting areas of light and shadow. Her art manifests the universal language of pattern, but it also creates a sense of living architecture.
Halima’s work is unique in its in-depth attention to surface pattern and texture. Inspired by her own cultural heritage, Halima also takes influence from African patterns to form complex architectural sculptures. Anywhere between 100 and 250 hours goes into each sculpture, making for pieces of art that are intricate in design and captivating in appearance.
Kaori creates sculptural work, painstakingly created hand-built replicas of everyday objects in white and black stoneware. The objects are then arranged either in a frame or tableaux with precise placement. In this way, her framed installations offer a contemporary take on the still lives and portraits of the Dutch Masters.
Marie-Rose Kahane’s passion for glass and design is influenced by her working and living in Venice, making it possible for her to look at different types of glass from the Renaissance to the timeless work of Carlo Scarpa. Vital to Yali are the very talented and committed glass artisans of Murano.
Clive makes domestic ware in the true Mingei tradition in that he wants people to be able to replace pots if they get broken. His free gestural decoration fits so well his warm and lively pots. Never one to overstate, he remains truthful to his chosen path while interpreting his work in a painterly way.
Karen makes functional pottery, working in reduction fired stoneware. Each piece is first thrown or hand-built, then individually worked and decorated with stripes, spots and cross-hatches which enhance aspects of its form. The reduction firing generates muted colours, often marked out with darker lines of patterning, producing a stillness and sobriety which Karen has expressed as a quality she is drawn to. Quiet and contemplative, her work reveals its qualities to the viewer over time and through use and handling.
Joe Hogan is a traditional basketmaker and fine artist. Prompted by a desire to develop a deeper connection to the natural world, Joe has become increasingly interested in making non-functional baskets. Into his baskets he incorporates wood, bark, larch, birch, bog myrtle, willow and catkins.
He has earned a reputation for making strong, durable baskets of the highest quality as well as indigenous Irish baskets such as creel, for which he is regarded as one of Ireland’s Master Craftsmen.
James Oughtibridge’s ceramic sculpture is defined by the tactility of its surface, and by the movement of line and shadow created by his concave and convex shapes. His work evokes a sense of rhythm and fluidity in the still object. Free-standing and stately, his sculptural pieces are also reminiscent of forms found in the natural world; they call to mind rock formations and fragments of bone.
Oughtibridge’s work is unglazed; he decorates by utilizing the nature of the clay body itself – creating textured surfaces through marks, emphasizing line and form.
Tom Perkins has worked as a renowned letter carver and lettering designer for the last 25 years. Working to commission, he designs and uses his own letterforms in all his work, which includes carved inscriptions (using a wide variety of British stones and slates), lettering for graphics and also painted lettering on buildings.
Chris is very fond of firing with wood, a process he learned in Yamagata, and continues to use a wood-fired salt-glazed kiln which he and his colleague Paul Jackson built themselves. Making everything from monumental jars to fine porcelain pieces while using a variety of tenmoku, kaki, wood ash and hakama glazes, his work shows a range in form, technique and palette.
Pippin Drysdale’s work evokes a timeless and breathtaking sense of space and place, narrating 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.
She works solely in porcelain sometimes inlaid with intense colour, at other times in metallic lustres. Her installations of marbles and vessels are ambitious, negotiating interweaving journeys through various landscapes. Through a continuing investigation of the flora and terrane of unique areas of Australia and a commitment to engaging with the cultural, social and political agendas that are shaping them, she embraces each new creative challenge with vigour.
Loving nothing more than to be on the beach or studying wild flowers, Judith Rowe decorates her earthenware using oxides and paints that mirror the greens, greys and blues of Hasting’s shoreline and surrounding landscape.
For this exhibition, Judith has used clay which she has dug up herself from the grounds of Great Dixter.
Great Dixter is a historic 15th century house, a garden, a centre of education and a place of pilgrimage for horticulturists from all over the world. Dixter was the family home of Nathaniel and Daisy Lloyd and subsequently their son, gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd, to whom the house was the focus of his enthusiasm, fuelling over forty years of books and articles. Renovated by Edwin Lutyens, the Tudor house incorporates a great hall, a parlour, a solar and a yeoman’s hall. Open to visitors for the summer season, the house and grounds is now under the stewardship of Fergus Garrett and the Great Dixter Charitable Trust.
For the exhibition we are delighted to present a bench and some hurdles for border edges, hand-made at Great Dixter using the wood collected from the grounds.
The following five pieces were hand selected especially by Joanna to illuminate the historical context of the contemporary work which she shows.
Many thanks to all the artists involved and to photographer Alick Cotterill and Sylvain Deleu.
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