Wales trip: Sculpture, Crafts & Murals

This started as musings about seeing Wendy’s exhibition at Theatr Clwyd in Mold, and evolved into a very full day of ceramics and other crafts. Brilliant! We met in the cafe of Ruthin Craft Centre (if you like flapjack it’s a must-have) before  visiting the galleries. Next stop Anvil Pottery – I’ve done a video of less than a minute, then Brookhouse Gallery – another short video,  Craig Bragdy Designs, where Wendy used to work – yep, a video. Then lunch, followed by Wendy’s exhibition – another video.

Ruthin Craft Centre

The centre is larger than I’d expected, with plenty of free car parking.  And the gallery – what a fabulous space!  There were 3 exhibitions in 3 galleries, with more interesting ceramics in the Centre Shop.

Micki Schloessingk – The Language of Clay: Earth, Fire and Salt

A display of hand-built and thrown, wood fired and salt glazed pottery.  Micki Schloessingk creates beautiful  forms combined with lovely surfaces effects.  There was something very quiet and peaceful about these pots that belie the excitement of the process.

 

Making In Colour

Featured 12 makers from various crafts for whom colour is central to their practice. I found Zoe Hillyard‘s work the most interesting. She encases broken fragments of pots in fabric and sews them together to reform the pot shape in bright patchwork.  The process reminds me of Japanese Kintsugi, although she says her inspiration is Mongolia, where she experienced a less a materialistic way of life and learnt to treasure things.

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I love Ruth Shelley‘s vibrant glass.  She draws inspiration for the forms of the Welsh landscape.  The action of the light on the glass is beautiful.

 

Yuta Segawa‘s tiny vessels were fascinating. Such a mouthwatering array of colours in the cabinet. Wendy was tempted.

hands holding tiny vessels
Yuta Segawa

 

I had to know how he made them, so here’s a short video of his throwing method.

 

 

Anvil Pottery

A brief detour to the Anvil Pottery, run by Allan Hughes and Krithia Roberts.  What a delightful place.  Originally the village smithy, the pottery dates back 200 years and it doesn’t seem to have changed much since.  All the pots are thrown using grogged earthenware and stoneware bodies, and glazed using homemade wood ash glazes, coloured with oxides – mainly iron and cobalt. They have been supplying their attractive functional ceramics all over the country for 35 years.

Above is my slideshow of our visit – many thanks to Allan and Krithia.

 

Brookhouse Pottery and Malt Kiln Gallery

Next we visited the lovely pottery of David and Margaret Frith, who are both potters of international acclaim. Set by a small river, they lovingly restored this former mill and brewery to form a spacious workshop and impressive gallery, with views over the Welsh countryside. Crossing the bridge over the river, there are small galleries housing examples of their 50 years work, and plenty of space for workshops, kilns and chickens.

 

 

David’s work’s in the Japanese tradition – he’s just 2 steps away from Bernard Leach. Margaret prefers to work in porcelain.  Their approach is businesslike and professional, yet they are obviously still excited by what comes out of their kilns.  Thank-you David and Margaret for a very interesting visit.

 

Craig Bragdy Designs

A family business that makes custom designed ceramic murals, swimming pool mosaics, and fountains – for a full range of their amazing creations click here. I love connections:  Jean and Rhys Powell began making murals in their pottery at Brookhouse Mill in the 1960s, and Craig Bragdy is now run by their sons just a couple of miles away.

Basic Method

  1. Design process
  2. Drawings supplied to manufacturing team
  3. Clay is extruded and sliced by machine into slabs
  4. The slabs are assembled on the floor, which is marked with a grid of square metres,
  5. Slabs are whacked with mallets to create one large slab.
  6. The designs are marked out on the slab, scaling up from the design drawing.
  7. Moulds, mallets and various tools are used to complete the design
  8. The slabs are cut into tiles, being sensitive to the design.
  9. The tiles are bisque fired – the first of multiple firings.
  10. The tiles are reassembled and sprayed with white engobes
  11. Coloured engobes are sprayed according to the design.
  12. After the last engobe firing, the mural is sprayed with clear glazed, which is wiped back so the indented areas are highlighted.
  13. The tiles are packed into square yard groups so the tilers can easily follow the design drawings.

Shrinkage is allowed for, and the outer tiles are made bigger for trimming to fit.

Many thanks to all at Craig Bragdy.

 

 

Wendy Lawrence at Theatr Clwyd

The gallery at Theatr Clwyd is huge, which Wendy filled beautifully.  The amount of work was amazing – and it looked amazing.  Brilliantly done, Wendy!

round textured sculpture in gallery
Wendy Lawrence Theatr Clwyd

There are lessons in curating an exhibitions to be learnt:

  • grouping related and contrasting pieces
  • stand alone statement pieces
  • varying plinth heights for interest
  • horizontal plinths to break up the length of the gallery
  • seating and video section to visually reduce the length of the gallery
  • wall hung pieces making full use of the space and adding height interest

And we can never resist a chance to dress up!

When everyone had gone, I took the opportunity to video Wendy’s exhibition:

 

 

Foyer Art at Theatr Clwyd

I was happily surprised to see Jacob Epstein’s bronze portrait of actor, Emlyn Williams. I’m never sure if I like or dislike Epstein’s portraits, but they always engender a strong emotional and aesthetic response in me. I love some of his other figurative sculpture. Lucifer, for instance, that now has pride of place in the round atrium at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, but, when I knew him, lived in the cafe. I’ve sat and enjoyed many a cup of tea with him.

 

Also Louise Schrempft, who, like me, is a Wolverhampton Uni graduate.  I’m not a horsey person, but I like her dreamy figures.

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