Aimee Lax at Stroud Valleys Artspace


How Precious, Precious How?

Ceramic material and specifically Porcelain is perceived as special for many and in some cases precious. We esteem its qualities, in being pure (white), it has clear dichotomies: it symbolises strength and fragility, birth and death. These are the main reasons it has become the most powerful and predominant material in my work, in representing the natural world, both as we know it and as we imagine it. The other materials I use in conjunction with clay have their many purposes but they are used as reminder of our world being increasingly man-made, industrial/technological, plastic, concrete or throw-away. In showing precious ceramic in collaboration with these other materials I hope to highlight even more, clay’s particular beauty and strangeness, as well as its nastier side….(ceramicists will know, bisqued crank clay is nasty, what happens when a wet foam is added?)

Many known materials produce a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction. Even just by looking, our teeth can hurt, think of how ‘nails down a blackboard’ makes the nerves in our mouths/teeth set on edge, these sorts of visceral connections are linked to the mouth and involves taste. Babies explore everything with their mouths, it’s a primal sense but over the years we acquire memories of materials through our experiences with them. Perhaps you will have memories of a particular material. Whether you know clay well or not, it doesn’t matter, I would like to hear your thoughts.

If you would like to visit Aimee, you should RSVP through her website…

Open Studios


Vulpes Vulpes at The Edge

Vulpes Vulpes

Carla Wright – ex Bath Spa Fine Art who is part of Vulpes Vulpes and working with the Edge at Bath University.

The Edge are doing all sorts of things around clay/ceramics/pottery as they develop their arts programme. They have really ramped up their activity, focusing for the first time on the captive campus audience and their workshops are doing really well – all around an interesting contemporary arts programme.

from Claire Loder – thanks Claire


Collini on Wood on Empson

So much of the art of criticism lies not in “judgment”, in the sense of sticking evaluative labels on pieces of literature, but the more ramifying forms of judgment involved in sustaining an engrossing conversation – judgment about what tone to adopt, how much intimacy to presume, how explicit to be, and so on. Decisions about such matters are decisions about who to be and who to assume your interlocutor is. It is more a form of tact than of passing sentence. Part of the dexterity of Wood’s own critical idiom lies in using the resources of the colloquial register to say just enough, leaving us to complete and digest the thought. His stylish brevity avoids the dogmatising implicit in all attempts to turn an observation into a theory.

Stefan Collini, review of On Empson, by Michael Wood, in The Guardian, Saturday 15 April 2017

I put William Empson, a ‘theoretical anarchist’, in the same brilliant box as Mikhail Bakhtin and Walter Benjamin. Collini’s piece reminded me of Sensory States and Objects, something I wrote for an exhibition a while back – consciously influenced by the two Bs and, doubtless, unconsciously influenced by Empson.



Clare Thornton


“I would describe my work within a conceptual craft frame, exploring the possibilities and limits of materials to support and encourage my conceptual enquiries. I am concerned with object/body/text relations and with the craft object as a physical meeting point and means of opening up dialogue/enquiry. The object has a strong grounding potential and helps tether my thinking and reading (of theory/philosophy) into the everyday. It can become a charged ‘prop’ or means through which to stimulate exchange. I am also interested in the performative possibilities of craft.

The themes contained within my work revolve around processes of transformation and display. I am excited by what I feel to be a productive friction between conceptual, functional and critical layers of making/production.”.

What an elegant and concisely informative statement that is. Clare is one of those lively, curious people who make the world seem full of possibility. I first met her some years ago, through a Spike Associates reading group, in Bristol.  She now works out of Karst Studios in Plymouth, where our very own Keith Harrison is based.

After becoming reacquainted through a recent text exchange – check out this brilliant collaboration with writer Emma Cocker – Clare visited the ‘ceramics department’ at BSAD in early April. The Italic I piece (and the statement above) tell me that we have arrived at similar concerns, from very different starting points, so I was excited to be asked to write / collaborate on a new work for an exhibition in December.

The field expands apace…



Ceramic Art London

Course trip to CAL on Friday, for our Analysis of Contemporary Context module. Interesting, if not startling, but there was a good buzz and the Central St. Martins space works well. Highlights, for me, were Fausto Salvi, Jongjin Park, Sara Moorhouse and Richard Miller.

Also impressed by newcomer, Lauren Nauman and old hand, Duncan Ross, who produces consistently beautiful pots. And I enjoyed the lightness of touch with which many of the Eastern exhibitors displayed their work – especially Yun Wook Mun.

Ali in conversation with Kathryn Hearn