Ceramic Art London is one of the must visit events in the craft calendar – though sadly the dates often to clash with my Spring exhibition. But leaving The Byre in the capable hands of willing friends I took Sunday off and headed up to the capital.
Run by the Craft Potters Association – the national body that represents potters and ceramic artists in the UK – CAL is a showcase of the best of ceramic art. From nearly two hundred applicants eighty-eight artists from twelve countries were selected to exhibit their rich and varied work. For the past 11 years it’s been held at the Royal College of Art but this year moved to Central St Martin’s in the very buzzy and dynamic location of Granary Square just behind King’s Cross. A former granary building – designed in 1852 by Lewis Cubitt, the architect of King’s Cross station the renovated space is light and airy – with a very contemporary feel – and for me, is a much better setting for this extraordinary selection of work.
I am always amazed how ceramic artists can continue to find inspiration to create such a diverse range of work: from functional thrown bowls and teapots to hand built sculptural and wall hung pieces. I enjoyed the porcelain vessels of Ali Tomlin and South Korean maker Jaejun Lee as well as the sculptural work of Rebecca Appleby and the intricately detailed animals of both Charlotte Pack and Marieke Ringel among many others – some of whom I hope I can introduce to The Byre audiences before too long.
I was really pleased to catch up with two former exhibitors at The Byre: Adam Frew’s stunning work in pastels and deep greens was in the gallery last summer as part of The Ripple Effect; and Chris Taylor whose highly individual work was the centerpiece of Standing on Ceremony last spring. It was great to catch up with both of them and see their new pieces – and I’m delighted that Chris’ work will feature in Out of the Picture this summer at The Byre.
It was also good to meet Ed Chadwick of the Snug Gallery in Yorkshire who was there helping his partner, the very talented ceramicist Jill Shaddock. The Snug gallery was hit very badly by floods last year and they are only just getting back to normal – thanks in part to a very successful Crowd-funding campaign initiated by some of their loyal clients. Jill’s very tactile slip-cast work beautifully blurs the boundaries between the functional and the decorative.
Outside the exhibition I was equally impressed with the improvement to the area. When I first moved to London in the late 90s, the back of King’s Cross station (or indeed the front) was not somewhere you would spend any time. I knew there was a canal behind the railway terminal, although I’d never seen it and for years there was talk about regeneration of the area and how stunning it could look. I had heard great reports but never quite had the time when I’m in London to and take a look. So I was doubly glad that CAL had moved to a new home so I had the excuse to see the results for myself – I think it’s fantastic: a lively, well-laid out and very usable area with lots to attract visitors, and really connected to both King’s Cross and St Pancras stations. I’ll look forward to Ceramic Art London 2017.