Rough with the smooth

Looking around the exhibition this morning I was struck yet again at the huge array of work that can be created from clay. From Remon Jephcott’s wafer thin plates, through Paul Cardew’s velvet smooth vases and Claire Palastanga’s spiky sculptural vessels to Pauline Lee’s textured toros and vessels, there is an amazing range of work that comes under the umbrella of ceramics.

Texture is very much the signature style of Pauline Lee’s striking ceramics. Her wonderful torsos were a highlight of my last exhibition, Everything in the Garden is Lovely and I’m so pleased that she has created two new pieces for this show. Both torsos have a delicate turquoise wash, and Pauline has textured the surface by impressing and embossing the clay with leaves, flowers and twigs she collects from her garden on Dartmoor; the effect is very arresting.

lantern jarPauline has used a similar technique on her Lantern Jar where she has made stamps and rollers from natural materials to create the ornate texture. At the top of the jar she has cut an opening in the clay to allow space for a tea light candle and her design has penetrated the surface to create gaps for the light to shine through. The surface of the Tropical Vessel mixes rough and smooth – lozenge shaped turquoise details look like semi precious stones set in a slightly gilded vase finished with a decidedly tropical top – a very desirable and striking piece.

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Raise a glass…

glass, craft, gallery

Glass stars by James Lethbridge

Glass, whether clear or coloured, is very often the most eye catching work in any exhibition. When I came up with the theme of Telling Tales I wanted to give the suggestion that the back wall of the gallery was a star-lit sky, I knew I could paint on some stars but to create real impact I wanted some genuine sparkle.

I showed some of James Lethbridge’s stunning glass stars in On Reflection, an exhibition I staged at Westcroft Gallery in Kingsand in 2011, and knew that they would be perfect for the effect I was trying to create; I was thrilled when James – who is now based in Belgium – was happy to take part in the exhibition. They are stunning pieces and look wonderful in any setting: identical ‘spikes’ of glass adhered to a central ball, they give the impression they are floating above rather than resting on the surface.

charlotte sale, glass, craft

Pink mini spritz and blue medium spritz

Charlotte Sale’s vibrant blown glass Spritz bowls have been favourite pieces in many of my exhibitions and Telling Tales is no exception.  To complement the colours of the show, Charlotte has produced new work in dark blues, indigo and pink and they are quite breathtaking.

It’s been a busy first week in the gallery and it’s been so lovely to see so many friends again – especially those who are down here on holiday and keep up to date with news from The Byre via this newsletter and my tweets.  So thank you to all of you who’ve been in to visit, I hope to see the rest of you soon – for the Bank Holiday weekend, as well as Saturday and Sunday, we’ll be open on Monday from 11 – 5. 

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Telling Tales – now open

Torso wall

We’re open!

I’m delighted to report that  Telling Tales is now open. I’m really pleased with the way it has all come together – and am so delighted with all the new work on display.

There is such an abundance of beautiful pieces to talk about that I was rather overwhelmed at the thought of deciding which maker I should share with you first. But I decided that the honour had to go to Falmouth based ceramicist Remon Jephcott whose work I’ve shown in all my Crafting Spaces and The Byre exhibitions. Remon’s highly original and inventive work – her delicate tea cup and saucers with ‘mould’ in them, her elegant tea plates with discreet flies, and her beautiful brooches have always been hugely popular and much commented on. A number of visitors to my exhibitions have thought that Remon has taken old pieces of china and reworked them but each ceramic piece is made from scratch with the detail built up over numerous firings to create her signature look.

Remon turkish delight

I’m thrilled with the new pieces Remon has created especially for Telling Tales: there are five stunning wall hung plates which each feature her typical decoration of birds, flowers and insects and look amazing as a set or individually; and as well as her more usual cup and saucer and slightly rotten fruit, Remon has created a “Turkish Delight” tea plate which feels suitably indulgent in my Eastern themed setting.

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The Final Countdown

It’s now less than a week until Telling Tales, The Byre’s summer exhibition, opens on 14th August. These final few days of preparation are always the most exciting – and the most stressful. There is huge thrill when a package of new craft arrives and a sense of awe at the incredible talent of the makers who produce such stunning pieces. But this is also the moment when I see if my plans really work; if the styling and curatorial ideas I’ve had in my head for the past few months finally come together.

Clare spiky and napkins

Of course it is also great fun and the aspect I love most about my job is bringing all the pieces of craft together, styling and putting them in groupings which enhance and flatter the individual pieces. Seeing new work for the first time can also inspire a new approach to curating. I had seen Claire Palastanga’s stunning spiky porcelain work in a smaller form and loved them, but I was totally blown away by her larger piece Wave which resembles the shell of an exotic sea creature, delicate and fragile looking it is surprisingly solid and quite simply stunning; it deserves a prominent position in the show, so a rethink on styling is required!

Claire is just one of the makers whose work I’m showing at The Byre for the first time and I’ll share more about the other new makers and their craft in coming weeks. I’m also thrilled by new work from makers who have previously shown at The Byre: Charlotte Sale and Ruth Shelley have each produced some gorgeous, vibrant new glass work; ceramicists Paul Cardew and Pauline Lee have both built on the wonderful work they each showed in the last exhibition with fantastic new collections, and Remon Jephcott has made a series of striking wall hung plates inspired by the idea of telling and sharing stories.

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