Original Ideas



Alex Shimwell Ceramics Art + Perception 108 2018 Art + Perception Home

I feel I am not quite a potter, at least not in the traditional sense; there are still many skills I have yet to gain and things I must learn. Though I feel my work sits within the classical ethos of British studio ceramics and its Eastern influence, it is not governed by its traditions.

While studying Ceramic Design at Staffordshire University I was fortunate to be introduced, by a mutual friend, to master potter Kevin Millward. who refined my technique on the wheel, explaining the architectural processes within throwing, and the considerations of the future process’ and material attributes that one must bear in mind when designing and creating a piece. I found his help Invaluable and he has, over the years, remained a good friend and source of conversation, both technical and aesthetic.

During my third year of study I went to Miyazaki prefecture, Japan, where I met 7th generation Jomon and Haniwa potter, Numaguchi Hiroki. At his studio we tried, despite the language barrier, to communicate the difference in techniques each demonstrating to the other on the wheel, and discussing a little of the traditions behind, and of, work he made.
After graduating, once I had the ability to return to making the high-fired reduction ware that I love, I began producing body of work in porcelain in pursuit of clean and precise pieces. I became obsessive over accuracy, which was probably due to being in Stoke- on-Trent, the industrial home of British ceramics. Whilst this was a superb method to improve my skills on the wheel, I found that as I developed, I wanted more from my work.

Once I had returned to the Peak District, in the north of England, I began exploring texture, and the uncontrived decoration that is developed through the live environment within the kiln.

Once I had returned to the Peak District, in the north of England, I began exploring texture, and the uncontrived decoration that is developed through the live environment within the kiln and the interactions of glaze and flame with form and clay bodies, that allows the incidental to occur. This freedom is common in the caustic environments of the wood or salt firers’ kiln, and has developed through my participation in such firings with various potters, culminating with a few years spent with Sherwood Forest Wood Firing Society.

Recently I relocated to a professional studio complex in Sheffield, a city famous for steel, and active in its support of the creative arts. The studio is located in the city centre and as it is part of the Yorkshire Art Space Society there are some constraints. This has forced my work into new directions as I have had to adapt as I attempt to achieve results from a pure gas kiln while still encouraging an essence of the serendipity. This has led me to further explore applied slips and textural form.

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