Event organiser and curator of Toovey’s Contemporary Art Auctions, Nicholas Toovey, always offers a selection of work entered by contemporary ceramicists. The 2012 auction on 21st July is no different and includes the work of fourteen ceramicists. Nicholas firmly believes that work in ceramics has a place within the contemporary art market, stating: “I have always viewed the work of the contemporary potter as an art form. When making my selection I always look for more sculptural forms or a painterly quality in the decoration. If viewed in this way, the clay becomes the blank canvas for any number of possibilities. Each ceramicist was chosen for their mastery of their craft and their individual approach.”
He continues, “I think work in ceramics is often overlooked as ‘art’, probably because of its historically more utilitarian applications, especially in this country. In Continental Europe, however, you have whole museums dedicated to the subject of modern ceramics. That said, England still has a wonderful heritage of studio pottery, which I am pleased continues today.” In keeping with the outlook of the Contemporary Art Auctions, there is an eclectic mixture of styles and appearance included in this year’s auction.
Ben Barker and Josse Davis have participated in all the previous contemporary art auctions at Toovey’s. Both were featured in a previous blog post ‘The Familiar Faces of the Contemporary Art Auctions‘. In contrast, there are five ceramicists appearing at the event for the first time: Pam Dodds, Jessica Jordan, Lisa Katzenstein, Justine Munson and Emily Myers.
This year the printed catalogue has a question-and-answer feature with every participating artist. Here is an example of the answers from these five new participants:
How do you describe your work? Pam Dodds: I usually say something like… I work on the wheel, an experience so like putting your hand up a cow’s bum, but then discovering you have found something sweet and wonderful being played on a finely tuned musical instrument.
What inspires you? Jessica Jordan: I have always lived in Littlehampton, very close to the Sussex Downs and the beach. I use aerial views of the downs, looking at the changing landscape through the seasons. The surrounding areas are a big influence to the work that I do.
What are the qualities of a great artist? Lisa Katzenstein: Somebody who finds their own subject matter and ploughs on without regard for fashion, but still has an awareness of the culture and society they live in.
Is there an interesting fact about you that people may not know? Justine Munson: My studio is so cold in winter I have to wrap my feet in bubble wrap to insulate them from the concrete floor. It’s not attractive but it works.
How do you manage to get the carved lines on your pots so even? Emily Myers: There is no trick to it, except a great deal of time invested in each piece. The caring is all done by eye. Many people have commented on my steady hand when they watch me work.
These five ceramicists add to the mix in the auction and join Peter Beard, John Evans, Carolyn Genders, Jonathan Chiswell Jones, Tony Laverick, Claire Palastanga (whose spiky heart-shaped dish was chosen for the front cover of the printed catalogue), and Maurice Young.
Many are members of the Craft Potters Association and are highly regarded in their respective fields. Some of the participants will be familiar to regular visitors of the Art in Clay and Sussex Guild shows and exhibitions. Offering ceramics alongside paintings, prints and sculptures has already changed some people’s perception of the medium and Nicholas hopes that this will continue with every Contemporary Art Auction.