At the Harlequin Gallery exhibition, opening on 3rd/4th September 2022, four contemporary ceramicists new to the gallery will be exhibiting their work. As an introduction, here are a few words about them and their work.
The first of these, Oliver Fenwick, graduated from the BA Sculpture course at Camberwell College of Arts in the mid 2000s. However, he turned his attention to ceramics in 2010 and went to study at the Crafts Council of Ireland’s Pottery Skills Course in Thomastown Co. Kilkenny. Since 2016 Oliver has been making pots from his small workshop in S E London.
Oliver’s current work is in part an interpretation of Korean buncheong ware: pots made with an iron bearing clay, decorated in white slip, and fired with a semi transparent ash glaze in a reduction kiln. Not having reliable access to the right type kiln nor a regular supply of wood ash, he forfeits gas, wood or oil reduction firing for oxidation firing in an electric kiln; Ash glaze with a feldspathic based equivalent; and grogged red earthenware clay for the iron rich stoneware as used in Korea.
Lisa Sjukur (pictured above) is the second of the contemporary ceramicists in the exhibition being held as part of Plumstead Artists Open Studios and the most inexperienced of the bunch. However, for me there is no evidence of this in her work, which blew me away when I first saw it at her home. Lisa was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, but moved to London in 1995 to study Graphic Design at Central St. Martin’s. After working as a graphic designer for almost twenty years, she decided to try out something more practical and hands-on and in 2019, she started a ceramics course at City Lit. She continues to attend one day a week and fires her work there or in wood-fired kilns when the opportunity arises.
Zara Taylor began working with ceramics over 20 years ago and early on got hooked on painting in the traditional Xie Yi freehand style rather than throwing, which she admits she is limited in. She is a member of the Chinese Brush Painting Society and the London Chinese Brush Painting Group and has taken part in Plumstead Open Studios on previous occasions. The work on show is by and large sushi dishes, with some mounted to be hung as wall pieces.
The final one of the four contemporary ceramicists new to the Harlequin Gallery is Joshua Williams. Joshua is a traditionally-trained studio potter based in south Scotland. He makes functional bespoke kitchenware that he says is inspired by the landscape around him. In 2019, after a two year apprenticeship, he and his wife, Bee, along with their two children, moved to Galloway to open their own studio. There Joshua makes high-fired functional earthenware with vital form and simple, expressive decoration.