Wednesday, March 31, 2010


'Art is a gate, not a product' - Robert Creeley, poet 

I am really tired of my work being referred to as a 'product' if it is any kind of object manufactured or refined for resale...any ideas on a better description?
I am thinking of the word 'artefact'  - an object made by a human being, typically an item of cultural or historical interest.(Dictionary description)

So here are some of my newest artefacts...where I have continued to be inspired by West African textiles, in particular Fante flags and Egyptian appliqué work. Naïve and whimsical images, both figurative and abstract, are depicted sometimes accompanied by random and often cryptic excerpts of poetic text. Colours are bright, primary and the application is graphic and crisp.
Material used is charcoal earthenware, press-moulded and handbuilt, with underglaze colours, underglaze pencil and transparent glaze. Both utilitarian and decorative, in these works I am exploring a sense of light, colour and joie de vivre. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


                       Pair of tea bowls, wheel-thrown distorted

"The autumn's approach,            
not yet is it apparent
for the eyes to behold;
yet the sharpness of the wind
gives a sudden feeling of it.
                     FUJIWARA TOSHIYUKI

                            Yesterday's freshly thrown teabowls...

                        Final series of tea bowls

"Wherever I look                                        
cherry blossom, crimson leaves
nowhere to be seen;
a rush-thatched hut by the cove
in the twilight of autumn."

A continuation of my exploration of spontaneity, I have been throwing on the wheel, making teabowls for an exhibition in April at The Clay Museum. 'Zen in the art of the tea ceremony' by Horst Hammitzsch, a book I have owned for decades, refreshed my interest in this discipline and provided a timely inspiration for the current concerns in my work. Mainly a sense of freedom, going with the flow, just 'being there'. This may all seem a bit anachronistic in some ways, a throw back to the trends of the 70's in the west, but the principles remain timeless and remain for me , always, something to strive (or not strive as it were!) for..
I use a charcoal earthenware throwing clay to make irregular shapes, dipped randomly into a cream slip and then incised, and later accents of red underglaze added. Also a bit of underglaze pencil drawing and here and there some poetic lines...

"Why must it be here
that you would spread your fragrance,
you maiden-flower,
where vulgar gossip spreads
its poison in this world?"

There is an interesting article in the Ceramic Review no.225 May/June 2007 "The Beauty of Imperfection" by Bonnie Kemkse in which she brings her experiences of ceramics and the Japanese tea ceremony to reflect on the abiding influence of the tea bowl in the west. 

Monday, March 29, 2010


Several different streams of thought happening simultaneously in my work at the moment...the one is the application of graphic images onto brightly coloured background surfaces, the main influence being various textile designs as seen on the previous posts.
At the same time, in a way parallel to this, I am also making pieces where I apply a spontaneous, loose brush work in a rather haptic manner. The influences here are Malevich (geometric imagery ) and then Miro, Kandinsky and others for their spiritually linked abstract manner of using line and colour in a painterly way. 
This results in each cup displaying, as it were, a small abstract painting. I am using charcoal casting slip, cream decorating slip into which I incise linear motifs, and then ceramic underglaze pencil, and red underglaze colour all covered by a clear glaze fired to 1120 degrees.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Experiments with using stencil type cut-out decals on beakers , to be fired in an overglaze firing 800 degrees centigrade. This is a further development of the 'graphic' look which I have been exploring recently.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Amongst working on various different threads, (pun intended!) I have been drawing inspiration from a selection of African textiles, in particular the Fante flags and Egyptian applique. I am seeking to achieve a type of simple graphic statement which links up with earlier work of mine where I have applied  Russian Constructivist and Suprematist motifs.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Steve Brockett
Clementina Van Der Walt
Syann van Niftrik
6 March - 10 April 2010
A group exhibition of painting, ceramics, jewellery at The Art Shop in Abergavenny, Wales, UK.
This is the most beautiful gallery situated in a very old townhouse in the main street. The atmosphere is one of intimacy and recalls a time of quiet and contemplative domesticity.The image here was actually taken last year in March when my work was on show together with paintings by Annica Neumuller.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Some examples of recent wheel-thrown pieces. I am currently experiencing a strong attraction to re-connecting with the directness of throwing on the wheel, and the satisfaction of making a utilitarian object. The intimacy of the cup which is made by hand and then ultimately held by another human hand, and indeed will touch the lips of another human, invites a sense of interconnectedness which I find most meaningful.
In the past year I have purchased coffee mugs by the British potters Chris Keenan - - and Matthew Blakely - - which I use and enjoy daily. I also use the irregular and freely formed mugs of the German potter Johannes Peters -
In particular the latter's signature style has inspired me to experiment with spontaneity of forming and of surface decoration. Formal elements of Russian constructivism and Suprematism which I have applied in earlier work are now taking on a far more 'abstract expressionist' this page for future creations!