The Perfect Bank Holiday Destination

‘Gazer’ the raku rabbit with a herd of bouncing bunnies
‘Gazer’ the raku rabbit with a herd of bouncing bunnies

The 2017 Arundel Gallery Trail coincides with the Arundel Festival. More than 150 artists are exhibiting this August Bank Holiday weekend in over 65 venues in and around Arundel.

The opening of ceramic artist Josse Davis’ exhibition has, for me, become synonymous with the start of the Arundel Gallery Trail.

A stoneware jug titled ‘The Art Class’ by Josse Davis
A stoneware jug titled ‘The Art Class’ by Josse Davis

I catch up with Josse and his partner, Melissa Alers Hankey, in the Duff Gallery as they put the finishing touches to the exhibition. My eye is immediately taken by a large blue and white stoneware jug by Josse Davis. Its beautiful baluster form bears testimony to the skill of this talented potter. Titled ‘The Art Class’ it is wittily decorated with a nude surrounded by artists and their canvases. Josse shows me how he has painted the nude on each of the artist’s canvases from its own perspective. I comment on how these vignettes add to the scene’s playful narrative. Josse responds saying “I like to think my work makes people smile.”

Ceramic artist, Josse Davis, in the Duff Gallery, Tarrant Street, Arundel
Ceramic artist, Josse Davis, in the Duff Gallery, Tarrant Street, Arundel

Josse Davis has exhibited at the Arundel Gallery Trail every year since it began. He comments “I notice how people who came more than twenty-five years ago are now returning with their own young families talking about when they bought their first figure or pot as children”.

A display of raku ware running rabbits is sure to be a favourite with children and adults alike. With prices ranging between £15 and £50 they are an accessible way to start to collect Josse’s ceramics. Each rabbit is individually modelled with its own name. Josse says “I add the eyes last – it gives them such life.” Melissa says “Their character isn’t fully revealed until they come out of the kiln.” Raku ware acquires its crazed appearance as the molten glaze cools suddenly and it shatters.

Josse’s father, the artist Derek Davis, started The Arundel Gallery Trail with a small group of other artists. Each year the Derek Davis Prize is given in his memory. The recipient is voted for by their fellow artists exhibiting in the gallery trail. In 2016 the prize was awarded to Josse Davis.

Josse Davis’ reputation as a ceramic artist is in the ascendancy and his prices are rising with his signature pieces selling for between £400 and £800.

The Arundel Gallery Trail is open 2.00pm to 5.30pm during the week and 12 noon to 5.30pm this Bank Holiday weekend. It provides art lovers with direct access to leading Sussex artists like Josse Davis and their work. For more information on exhibiting artists and this celebration of Sussex as a centre of art go to www.arundelgallerytrail.co.uk.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

 

Pots to make you smile on the Arundel Gallery Trail

Each dog is individually modelled with its own character
'A Parliament of Dogs' by Josse Davis, each dog is individually modelled with its own character

What could be a better August Bank Holiday weekend treat than visiting potter, Josse Davis, at the Duff Gallery, Tarrant Street, Arundel, as part of the 2016 Arundel Gallery Trail.

Potter, Josse Davis with Stanley the dog and his ceramic sculpture ‘Parliament of Dogs’
Potter, Josse Davis with Stanley the dog and his ceramic sculpture ‘Parliament of Dogs’

The Arundel Gallery Trail is now in its 28th year and coincides with the Arundel Festival. More than 150 artists will be exhibiting in over 60 venues in and around Arundel.

Josse Davis has exhibited every year.

This talented potter feels a great connection with the countryside around Arundel. He explains that walking with his dog, Stanley, gives him time to imagine, away from the everyday.

As I approach the Duff Gallery I catch sight of Josse and Stanley beside his ceramic sculpture ‘Parliament of Dogs’. Wit and storytelling are at the heart of his work. He describes his pleasure in making the dogs. Each dog is individually modelled with its own character. Josse says “I add the eyes last – it gives them such life. These Raku ware dogs come out of the kiln when the glaze is still molten. The glaze cools suddenly and it shatters giving a crazed appearance.”

My eye is taken by a beautiful stoneware charger decorated with a shoal of Mullet. Josse smiles and describes how Stanley enjoys a morning swim. Sometimes they find shoals of Mullet in the Arun “You see them, hundreds thick, on a hot day as they swim up river. They light up the muddy river with their shades of blue, silver and greys.” The translucence of the scene he describes is perfectly represented in the dish. ‘Mullets’ has long been a term used for those born in Arundel.

A stoneware charger titled ‘Mullet’ by Josse Davis
A stoneware charger titled ‘Mullet’ by Josse Davis

I comment that his exceptional work is that of a potter, an artist, working at the height of his powers. Josse responds “I’ve reached a point in my work in which I’m comfortable not to have to keep searching for new glazes. My Raku and Stoneware glazes don’t let me down, which allows me to concentrate purely on the design and gives my craftsmanship a fresh confidence.” He concludes “I like to think my work makes people smile.” I agree. Josse Davis’ ideas always have a hint of wit about them.

There are bowls and dishes painted with witty scenes and individual dogs too. Prices range from £30 to £4500.

Exhibiting print maker, Melissa Alers Hankey in the Duff Gallery
Exhibiting print maker, Melissa Alers Hankey in the Duff Gallery

Josse Davis is exhibiting with his partner, Melissa Alers Hankey and Victor Stuart Graham.

The Arundel Gallery Trail is open 2.00pm to 5.30pm during the week and 12 noon to 5.30pm this Bank Holiday weekend. It provides an exciting opportunity to enjoy and buy art from leading Sussex artists like Josse Davis. For more information on exhibiting artists and this celebration of Sussex as a centre of art go to www.arundelgallerytrail.co.uk.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

POTS TO MAKE YOU SMILE ON THE ARUNDEL GALLERY TRAIL

What could be a better August Bank Holiday weekend treat than visiting potter, Josse Davis, at the Duff Gallery, Tarrant Street, Arundel, as part of the 2016 Arundel Gallery Trail.

The Arundel Gallery Trail is now in its 28th year and coincides with the Arundel Festival. More than 150 artists will be exhibiting in over 60 venues in and around Arundel.

Josse Davis has exhibited every year.

This talented potter feels a great connection with the countryside around Arundel. He explains that walking with his dog, Stanley, gives him time to imagine, away from the everyday.

As I approach the Duff Gallery I catch sight of Josse and Stanley beside his ceramic sculpture ‘Parliament of Dogs’. Wit and storytelling are at the heart of his work. He describes his pleasure in making the dogs. Each dog is individually modelled with its own character. Josse says “I add the eyes last – it gives them such life. These Raku ware dogs come out of the kiln when the glaze is still molten. The glaze cools suddenly and it shatters giving a crazed appearance.”

My eye is taken by a beautiful stoneware charger decorated with a shoal of Mullet. Josse smiles and describes how Stanley enjoys a morning swim. Sometimes they find shoals of Mullet in the Arun “You see them, hundreds thick, on a hot day as they swim up river. They light up the muddy river with their shades of blue, silver and greys.” The translucence of the scene he describes is perfectly represented in the dish. ‘Mullets’ has long been a term used for those born in Arundel.

I comment that his exceptional work is that of a potter, an artist, working at the height of his powers. Josse responds “I’ve reached a point in my work in which I’m comfortable not to have to keep searching for new glazes. My Raku and Stoneware glazes don’t let me down, which allows me to concentrate purely on the design and gives my craftsmanship a fresh confidence.” He concludes “I like to think my work makes people smile.” I agree. Josse Davis’ ideas always have a hint of wit about them.

There are bowls and dishes painted with witty scenes and individual dogs too. Prices range from £30 to £4500.

Josse Davis is exhibiting with his partner, Melissa Alers Hankey and Victor Stuart Graham.

The Arundel Gallery Trail is open 2.00pm to 5.30pm during the week and 12 noon to 5.30pm this Bank Holiday weekend. It provides an exciting opportunity to enjoy and buy art from leading Sussex artists like Josse Davis. For more information on exhibiting artists and this celebration of Sussex as a centre of art go to www.arundelgallerytrail.co.uk.

Rupert Toovey is a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington – www.tooveys.com – and a priest in the Church of England Diocese of Chichester.

Image 1: Potter, Josse Davis with Stanley the dog and his ceramic sculpture ‘Parliament of Dogs’.

Image 2: Each dog is individually modelled with its own character.

Image 3: A stoneware charger titled ‘Mullet’ by Josse Davis.

Image 4: Exhibiting print maker, Melissa Alers Hankey in the Duff Gallery.

POTS TO MAKE YOU SMILE ON THE ARUNDEL GALLERY TRAIL

What could be a better August Bank Holiday weekend treat than visiting potter, Josse Davis, at the Duff Gallery, Tarrant Street, Arundel, as part of the 2016 Arundel Gallery Trail.

The Arundel Gallery Trail is now in its 28th year and coincides with the Arundel Festival. More than 150 artists will be exhibiting in over 60 venues in and around Arundel.

Josse Davis has exhibited every year.

This talented potter feels a great connection with the countryside around Arundel. He explains that walking with his dog, Stanley, gives him time to imagine, away from the everyday.

As I approach the Duff Gallery I catch sight of Josse and Stanley beside his ceramic sculpture ‘Parliament of Dogs’. Wit and storytelling are at the heart of his work. He describes his pleasure in making the dogs. Each dog is individually modelled with its own character. Josse says “I add the eyes last – it gives them such life. These Raku ware dogs come out of the kiln when the glaze is still molten. The glaze cools suddenly and it shatters giving a crazed appearance.”

My eye is taken by a beautiful stoneware charger decorated with a shoal of Mullet. Josse smiles and describes how Stanley enjoys a morning swim. Sometimes they find shoals of Mullet in the Arun “You see them, hundreds thick, on a hot day as they swim up river. They light up the muddy river with their shades of blue, silver and greys.” The translucence of the scene he describes is perfectly represented in the dish. ‘Mullets’ has long been a term used for those born in Arundel.

I comment that his exceptional work is that of a potter, an artist, working at the height of his powers. Josse responds “I’ve reached a point in my work in which I’m comfortable not to have to keep searching for new glazes. My Raku and Stoneware glazes don’t let me down, which allows me to concentrate purely on the design and gives my craftsmanship a fresh confidence.” He concludes “I like to think my work makes people smile.” I agree. Josse Davis’ ideas always have a hint of wit about them.

There are bowls and dishes painted with witty scenes and individual dogs too. Prices range from £30 to £4500.

Josse Davis is exhibiting with his partner, Melissa Alers Hankey and Victor Stuart Graham.

The Arundel Gallery Trail is open 2.00pm to 5.30pm during the week and 12 noon to 5.30pm this Bank Holiday weekend. It provides an exciting opportunity to enjoy and buy art from leading Sussex artists like Josse Davis. For more information on exhibiting artists and this celebration of Sussex as a centre of art go to www.arundelgallerytrail.co.uk.

Rupert Toovey is a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington – www.tooveys.com – and a priest in the Church of England Diocese of Chichester.

Image 1: Potter, Josse Davis with Stanley the dog and his ceramic sculpture ‘Parliament of Dogs’.

Image 2: Each dog is individually modelled with its own character.

Image 3: A stoneware charger titled ‘Mullet’ by Josse Davis.

Image 4: Exhibiting print maker, Melissa Alers Hankey in the Duff Gallery.

The Art of the Studio Potter

Four graduated jugs by Alison Britton
Four graduated jugs by Alison Britton

This week I am returning to ‘The Bishop Otter Art Collection: A Celebration’ exhibition at Chichester University to rediscover their remarkable British Studio Pottery.

A Bernard Leach stoneware jug
A Bernard Leach stoneware jug

The collection includes Modern British paintings as well as studio ceramics, sculpture and tapestries. Visiting professor Gill Clark explains the philosophy behind the collection “Sheila McCririck and the Bishop Otter College Principal Betty Murray founded the collection in the years after the Second World War. They both believed in the civilising influence of art and the educative value of its ability to challenge.” With this philosophy behind the collection it is un-surprising that the Bishop Otter teaching college should have also collected the work of artisan, art potters.

Britain led the world in the field of studio ceramics in the 20th century.

The British ceramics tradition is tied up with the vernacular. From medieval times its production has been widespread and diverse.

The artisan artist is at work in studio ceramics. Form, colour and decoration come together creating objects which are not only beautiful but, very often, useful as well. This is very much in the tradition of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement.

A Lucie Rie stoneware bottle
A Lucie Rie stoneware bottle

Bernard Leach (1887-1979) is considered to be the most influential potter of the 20th century. He was born in Hong Kong and lived in Japan and Singapore. The Japanese tradition of artisan artists was fading when Leach decorated his first pot there in 1909. In 1920 he returned to England with the Japanese potter, Shoji Hamamda. Bernard Leach was persuaded to set up his workshop in St Ives. His lectures and writing would have a profound influence on a generation of British potters. Gill Clark points out that Norah Braden was the college’s first specialist pottery tutor and that she had been a pupil of Bernard Leach. His work is represented in the collection by the beautiful stoneware jug seen here.

Bernard Leach was initially critical of the work of Lucie Rie (1902-1995) but they would become great friends. In contrast to the influences of the rustic folk tradition and Chinese Sung apparent in Bernard Leach’s work Rie’s pots have a metropolitan, modernist quality. She enjoyed turning on the potter’s wheel but despite her remarkable control her pots never seem tight or mechanical. The beauty of her vases and their exceptional form cause your heart to quicken. It is readily apparent to the eye why she transformed modern ceramics.

Other studio ceramic gems in the collection and exhibition include the Sussex based ceramicist, Eric Mellon’s (1925-2014) ‘Horse and Rider’ dish. His years of research and experimentation into ash glazes brought him international recognition both as an artist, ceramicist and scientist. For Eric his art was his calling and vocation.

An Eric James Mellon ‘Horse and Rider’ dish
An Eric James Mellon ‘Horse and Rider’ dish

Alison Britton’s (b.1948) sharp-edged clay jugs seem to depict different facets of a landscape which in turn include human figures, trees, fish and insects. Their decoration has an immediacy reflecting Britton’s spontaneous method of drawing in response to the asymmetric planes of the jugs.

‘The Bishop Otter Art Collection: A Celebration’ runs until 9th October 2016 at the University of Chichester Otter Gallery and Pallant House Gallery. Gill Clarke has published an insightful accompanying book about the collection and its formation which is on sale at both venues. For more information and opening times go to www.pallant.org.uk and www.chi.ac.uk/current-exhibitions/bishop-otter-collection-celebration.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Jonathan Chiswell Jones at Chichester Cathedral

Jonathan Chiswell Jones
“To Everything There is a Season and a Time for Every Purpose under the Heavens” by Jonathan Chiswell Jones

I have long admired the work of Sussex based potter Jonathan Chiswell Jones. An exhibition of his ceramics, titled “Earth, Fire, Gold: Elemental Beauty by Jonathan Chiswell Jones”, is being held at Chichester Cathedral until 14th September 2014.

Last week I wrote about one of our nation’s most famous potters, William de Morgan, who had such a formative influence on the 19th century Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain and a strong association with William Morris. He produced lustre wares, finding inspiration in Persian and Hispano-Moresque ceramics.

Like de Morgan before him, Jonathan Chiswell Jones is a master of carefully integrated patterns. These designs employ motifs drawn from nature, as in the dishes shown here with their reserve panels of flowers and fish.

Fish Bowl by Jonathan Chiswell Jones
Fish Bowl by Jonathan Chiswell Jones

William Morris famously said: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Good advice! Jonathan acknowledges the influence of the ideas of John Ruskin and the example of William Morris and says, “My aim is to make practical and beautiful porcelain and lustreware for use in the home. Making lustreware is a process of hand and head and heart; it is the challenge of practising a craft which utilises all my faculties.”

The dish inscribed “To Everything There is a Season and a Time for Every Purpose under the Heavens” draws its inspiration from that wonderful passage in the Old Testament from Ecclesiastes, chapter three, which has given such comfort to successive generations when they pause to reflect on the seasons of our human lives. The verses describe how God gives each of us things to do in his purpose and how we are to enjoy life as a gift of His Grace.

Born in Calcutta in 1944, Jonathan Chiswell Jones first saw pottery being made on the banks of the Hooghly River, where potters were making disposable teacups from river clay. He was one of Lewis Creed’s pupils. Lewis Creed was a young art teacher at Ashfold School, Handcross, who wanted to introduce his pupils to the joys of making pottery. Inspired by these early contacts with clay, Chiswell Jones has worked as a professional potter for the past forty years. In 1998, he was given an award by Arts Training South, which encouraged him to go on a course about ceramic lustre. He began to experiment with the thousand-year-old technique used by Middle Eastern potters to fuse a thin layer of silver or copper onto the surface of a glaze. This layer, protected by the glaze, then reflects light, hence the term ‘lustre.’ The lustreware on show at Chichester Cathedral demonstrates its continuing ability to capture our imaginations. Clay and glaze, metal and fire combine to produce pots which reflect light and colour, a process in which base metal seems to be turned to gold. Jonathan Chiswell Jones notes: “I am proud to stand in this lustreware tradition, with its roots in the Islamic empire of the 10th century, its appearance in Spain and Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries, its revival in the 19th century by Theodore Dec in France and by Zolnay in Hungary, and in this country by William De Morgan, and more recently by Alan Caiger-Smith.”

15th century Bell-Arundel Screen
The 15th century Bell-Arundel Screen restored to the Cathedral in 1960 in memory of the life of Bishop George Bell by Rev. Walter Hussey

How fitting that, following in such an ancient tradition, Jonathan Chiswell Jones’ work should be displayed in our timeless Chichester Cathedral. William Morris defined art as “man’s expression of his joy in labour”. There can be no doubt that creating beauty in the world is part of our human purpose in this life.

“Earth, Fire, Gold: Elemental Beauty by Jonathan Chiswell Jones” is being held in Chichester Cathedral’s Treasury (next to the North Transept) until Sunday 14th September 2014. While you are there, take a moment to go to the Southern Ceramic Group Summer Exhibition in the Bishop’s Kitchen, adjacent to the Cathedral, sponsored by Toovey’s Fine Art Auctioneers.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 30th July 2014 in the West Sussex Gazette.

The Eric James Mellon Studio Pottery Collection at Toovey’s

Eric James Mellon (1925-2014)

Lots 1549 to 1597 in our forthcoming auction of British & Continental Ceramics & Glass are from the personal collection of the internationally acclaimed, Sussex-based ceramic artist, painter, printmaker and educator Eric James Mellon, who died on 14th January this year.

Two Bernard Forrester items from the collection
Two flower-bricks by Sarah Walton from the collection

Eric was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, in 1925.  At the age of 13 he won a place at Watford Technical and Art Institute, where he studied until 1944, also attending weekend classes at Harrow School of Art. From 1944 to 1947 he studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London. In the early 1950s he set up an artistic community at Hillesden, Buckinghamshire, with fellow artists Derek Davis, John Clarke, Mary Mansfield, Ruth Lambert and his wife-to-be, Martina Thomas. Eric married Martina in 1956 and they moved to Bognor Regis, West Sussex. He set up his pottery at their home in 1958 and there he worked for the next fifty-six years.  Always an enthusiastic and generous teacher, Eric ran summer art schools for some thirty years in Cornwall and at Slindon College, West Sussex, where he was head of art for twenty years. Eric Mellon’s work has been exhibited around the world and is held in many public collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and Pallant House Gallery, Chichester.

The collection includes two Pablo Picasso white earthenware dishes, and works by Josse Davis, Kitty Shepherd, Ursula Mommens, Bernard Forrester, Seth Cardew, Phil Rogers, Clare Sutcliffe, Yolande Beer, Denis Moore and others.