Students, staff & alumni showcase their creative ceramic practice at The Leach Pottery

A selection of our students, staff and alumni are exhibiting in ‘Plymouth in Practice’, two new exhibitions at The Leach Pottery, St Ives, showcasing the rich and creative ceramic practice exemplified by the college.

The Entrance Gallery at The Leach Pottery will showcase a selling exhibition of selected ceramics from 21 January to 19 March, created by seven current students and recent alumni, including Chloe BurkeEllen WoodsKate Lyons-MillerMiranda QualtroughRebecca RobertsJessica Thorn and Ruth Harrison.

From 21 January to 12 March, the Cube Gallery will host an exhibition of works by staff currently teaching ceramics on our BA (Hons) Ceramics & Glass and BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts programmes. Invited artists include Chris TaylorDan ChappleKim BagleyJason Marks and Maria Psiliagkou.

Chloe Burke uses the technique of whittling in her ceramic vessels – originally used in wood carving, it is known for its sharp, textured cuts – creating a beautiful contrast with the soft edges of the clay.

Chloe Burke uses the technique of whittling in her ceramic vessels – originally used in wood carving, it is known for its sharp, textured cuts – creating a beautiful contrast with the soft edges of the clay.

Dr Matthew Tyas, Exhibitions Coordinator at The Leach Pottery, said: “This is the first time that we’ve worked with Plymouth College of Art, an institution that remains firmly committed to material practice – a unique oasis amongst a national environment where many colleges and universities have turned their backs on crafts skills and knowledge in ceramics.

“Seeing the different pieces of work side by side should give an idea of the breadth of different approaches from artists at the college.” — Chris Taylor, lecturer

“The Entrance Gallery exhibition will be a great opportunity to see and buy the work of recent alumni and current students – which not only supports them in their practice but also gives them the vital opportunity to exhibit their ceramics to the public.

“There’s a contemporary feel to the works, exemplifying a wide range of aesthetic styles and methods, so it will be interesting to see how visitors respond to them.

Ruth Harrison uses porcelain to create sculptural forms using repeated elements and symmetry.

Ruth Harrison uses porcelain to create sculptural forms using repeated elements and symmetry.

“Furthermore, there’s also the rare opportunity to see a parallel exhibition, in the Cube Gallery, of work by the staff that have taught and supported the alumni and students over the years.

“This doesn’t happen very often, so it will be fascinating to gain an insight into the thinking and practice behind the people who teach and inspire new generations of ceramicists.”

“This is the first time that we’ve worked with Plymouth College of Art, an institution that remains firmly committed to material practice…” — Dr Matthew Tyas, Exhibitions Coordinator at The Leach Pottery

Founded in 1920, The Leach Pottery is considered by many to be the birthplace of British studio pottery. One of the great figures of 20th-century art, Bernard Leach played a crucial pioneering role in creating an identity for artist potters across the world.

Chris Taylor, lecturer in Ceramics across BA (Hons) and Masters degrees, said: “I’m excited to be exhibiting at The Leach Pottery and this is a great opportunity for staff and students of the college alike.

“Seeing the different pieces of work side by side should give an idea of the breadth of different approaches from artists at the college.

Chris Taylor's unique pieces combine various layers with slip, underglaze printing and lustre, resulting in a striking, in-depth piece.

Chris Taylor’s unique pieces combine various layers with slip, underglaze printing and lustre, resulting in a striking, in-depth piece.

“Thinking of my own work, I consider myself to be a ceramic designer making individual pieces of art, in clay, that celebrate the qualities of the materials and the art of ceramics.

“I use a lot of printing and painting processes as surface decoration, using traditional processes in new ways and introducing some methods that aren’t traditionally associated with ceramics.

“I make items that you’d associate with everyday domestic environments, such as vases, then layer and disrupt the surface decoration, sometimes chipping off the glaze or using other erosive processes to reveal what came before.”

Jessica's beautiful pieces are inspired by the characteristics and forms of metal tins through vitrified porcelain.

​Jessica’s beautiful pieces are inspired by the characteristics and forms of metal tins through vitrified porcelain.

Designer-maker Jessica Thorn, who graduated in BA (Hons) Contemporary Crafts in 2013 and won Best New Business at the Contemporary Craft Festival, said: “I was so pleased to be asked to exhibit at The Leach Pottery and it’s really nice that I will be showing work alongside my former tutors, technicians and a fellow graduate from my year.

“I have really been supported by Plymouth College of Art since leaving college, and am still in touch with lots of members of staff, technicians and very good friends.

“I used this exhibition as an opportunity to make some new work, exploring still life painters such as William Scott and Giorgio Morandi. From this research, I designed and made a collection of still life three-dimensional bottles.

“I hand-build each individual piece with porcelain, showing my construction process in which the subtle line detail decorates each piece. This is a technique that I developed during my final year of studying at Plymouth College of Art, and which I continue to use today.

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