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.
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.