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“The most satisfying thing a human being can do –and the sexiest- is to make something. Life is about relationships - to each other and the material world. Making something is a relationship.” Jeanette Winterson



Jack Doherty

‘Making ceramics is a complicated business. Not only does an aspiring ceramicist have to acquire the skills needed to form objects from a tricky, changeable and shifting material but they will also have to come to terms with an array of slips, glazes and a multitude of decorative techniques. Finally and scarily, there is firing. Committing sometimes many months of work to the most severe conditions to undergo total and irreversible transformation.’ !


‘A kiln is essentially a box designed, insulated and fuelled to reach and contain very high temperatures, most usually built from special furnace bricks of different grades. Light- weight insulating firebricks are most commonly used, but “heavies” the traditional hard clay bricks are needed when the pots and the kilns are subjected to the most extreme conditions, for example long firings with wood and salt lasting several days. Kilns can be constructed from refractory castable concrete, a material that can be formed in molds, a process similar to the way that concrete buildings are made. Ceramic fibre is a high quality refractory insulating material. In the form of a flexible blanket it can be cut and shaped easily and is often used to make kilns for raku firing. The space formed by the kiln structure, the place where the work is packed for firing, is called the chamber. Most potters use a single chamber kiln, the size of which will vary enormously depending on the scale of their work and the quantity of pots being produced. The pieces are placed on refractory shelves, called bats, which form different levels within the chamber. Wood fired kilns based on traditional oriental designs are used because of the special qualities achieved through long firings. The work is subjected to very high temperatures, variable atmosphere and direct contact with vapour and ash from the fuel.’ !

Mandy Parslow: Wood kiln, crash cooling!


‘The anagama is a large single chamber kiln where the work is often “tumble stacked’ which means that it is packed without using bats. The potter, anticipating the direction of the flame, places pieces on top of each other separated with sea- shells which become fused into the form of the work. The nobrigama is a multi chamber wood fuelled kiln. Capable of firing a very large number of pieces, this type of kiln allows work to be placed in a way that either connects with the volatile kiln atmosphere or is protected from it in special clay boxes called saggars. The fuel most widely used by studio potter is electricity. But all of the makers in this exhibition have chosen to use fuels that create a “live flame”. Wood, oil and gas produce conditions within the kiln which can be used to directly affect the chemical nature of the metallic oxides in the clays, slips and glazes. These changes, sometimes controlled sometimes uncertain, produce subtle nuances of colour and surface quality not obtainable in any other way.

My definition of ceramics, is based on the Greek concept of Keramos “a material or specific substance created by the interaction of clay and fire’. Advances in materials technology may have made that definition seem limited. New ceramic materials and digital forming techniques offer a way of working which almost removes the physical connection between maker and material. The artists that I have chosen for the exhibition have for their own reasons decided to embrace the risk and unpredictability of fire and have learned and developed techniques which help to achieve the results which excite them. They all fire kilns designed and built themselves and use wood and flame, salt, soda sawdust and smoke to create unique and beautiful ceramic forms’ Jack Doherty August 2016!

‘Transformed in Fire’ assembles an international group of artists whose work displays no discernable commonalty and belongs to no shared genre. But their work is linked through their knowledge and understanding of a diverse range of kilns, firing techniques and especially their creative relationship with fire. This is the vital force animating their making and defining their work.’ ! !


Rafael Perez

Rapahel Perez speaks about the element of surprise which is an inspiration when creating what he describes as “ceramic landscapes” He works with combinations of earthenware and porcelain clay to produce forms which “blur the distinction between ceramics, painting and sculpture”. “As always, my work is about surprising myself and the audience. I use white porcelain and black earthenware clay together, fired at a high temperature. These materials respond differently to the same forces at work during the firing. The earthenware expands and erupts, creating a volcanic landscape – but not a natural one’



‘What emerges from the fire is not mere chance or just a happy accident. That is because it is directed by me. I impose my will on the materials to the extent that I create the cuts and layers that interact within the kiln. From the beginning there is order demanded from the clays. Nevertheless, it is an order that follows the rules of nature as well as man. That is why the element of surprise is always present. What happens in the kiln is unpredictable.’! Untitled Form 1!

Untitled Form 111! !

Untitled Form IV!

Untitled Form 11!

Untitled Form V! 7!

Untitled Form V1

Untitled Form IX !

Untitled Form VII!

Untitled Form X

Untitled Form VIII!

Untitled Form XI 8!

Untitled Form XII !


Ruthanne Tudball

Large ! platter 38cm Diameter

Ruthanne Tudball’s thrown work describes the fresh dynamic life of clay. Thrown and manipulated while wet on the wheel, her wood fired soda vapour firing enhances the softness and fluidity of the making.


Ginger Jar

Ginger Jar

‘The dialogue that goes on between the maker and the clay is carried out through the use of the pots. You pour, you eat, you store, you serve and you drink from them, and sometimes you just contemplate them. Manipulating soft clay on a revolving wheel and feeling the material respond to the merest touch is like setting out on an exciting journey for me ‘All of my work is thrown and manipulated while wet on the wheel. In an attempt to capture the softness in the finished piece, I do very little turning (trimming), and when the turning is done, it mainly happens at the soft stage. After firing and transforming the clay to stone, that softness can still be seen.’ !



Chawan – Tea bowl


Chawan – Tea bowl!!

Tokkuri – Saki bottle!!

‘Observing and touching the surface qualities of such diverse things as the sculpture of Brancusi and Giacometti, water, sand and stone, ancient unglazed vessels next to highly glazed ones, the profound inevitability of the landscape and the drawings of Rembrandt all feel the creative spirit. Work which concerns itself with the highlighted areas and shadows, shiny and matt surfaces and textural qualities punctuated by the play of fire and vapour is what I endeavour to achieve. We are inherently defined by what we do and what we potters do with clay identifies who we are. I see my work as a potter as an active participation in a way of life that is celebrating the beauty of the world around us and the intimacy of human relationships, enjoyment, caring and warmth. I try to use clay with honesty and integrity and hope people respond with their hearts.’


Tall jug !

Square bottle ! !

Large jar ! 13!

Marcus O’Mahony


Marcus O’Mahony’s Stoneware and porcelain pots are aligned with the Leach /Hamada tradition. He uses a range of techniques including faceting, combing stamping and impressing to decorate his forms. He is inspired by the interaction of wood and salt. He fires a noborigama and a gas salt kiln.

! 3 Facetted Stoneware Vase with crackle slip and ash glaze. !


! Three stoneware vases, crackle slip with ash glaze


‘I am a studio potter making functional and one-off pieces, working with a range of stoneware and porcelain clays. My work is fired in an oriental style threechamber wood-kiln and a salt-glaze gas kiln, both of which I have built myself. I am fascinated by the interaction of salt and wood-fire with the clay. These methods of firing enhance by forms and are a source of constant inspiration.’!

Stoneware Pouring bowl glaze interior, slip exterior!


Large Textured vase side fired on shells

Blue celadon porcelain vase

Low blue celadon porcelain vase

Marcus O’Mahony has been making functional stoneware and porcelain inspired by the Leach Hamada tradition at his studio in rural Co. Waterford for the last 15 years. His passion is woodfired ceramics and salt glaze. To accommodate his continued interest and ongoing development in this highly specialised area he has recently completed the building of a large kiln capable of producing longer firings (3-4 days) for his work. It is this prolonged firing that generates the heat of 1300°C needed to move the wood ash around the kiln interior which results in the rich surface, colour and textural effects that are associated with this type of work. These variations in texture, colour and surface caused by a combination of many different factors within the kiln are exactly the effects Marcus seeks to generate in order to complement his considered thrown and handbuilt forms. To add to the drama of the firing he also applies slips and glazes to allow the chemical process itself to deliver a unique result from the fire. ! !



Tan combed stoneware vase with slip! !


Tim Andrews

Tim Andrews makes sculptural forms using raku and smoke firing techniques to achieve their lustrous surface quality. These are high risk process’s where the work is removed from the kiln when red hot then immersed in combustible materials such as sawdust to chemically and physically alter the glaze surface and colour. !

Large resist striped Humbug form !



“The transformation of raw materials – mud to art – is a fascinating journey of evolutionary transition, peppered with risk-taking step changes. My own work represents an ongoing dialogue between the technical sophistication of processes, serendipity, and timeless human qualities!! After 35 years of making my pieces have become more minimal in style; yet the simplicity and apparent effortlessness aimed for stems from a labour-intensive, unforgiving and demanding technique, together with a dramatic and intense firing process. Ultimately, for me, each piece has to justify its existence with a quiet, yet powerful, presence.”! 1 Low red glazed lidded curling piece!


2 Narrow red glazed lidded curling piece! 3 Large red glazed lidded curling piece!

2! !

3! 19!

Large green crackled lidded curling piece!

Tim is known internationally for his individual raku/smokefired and porcelain work. He has regular large exhibitions both in the UK and around the world – most recently in America, Australia and later this month in Japan. He has written two best selling books on Raku ceramics and his pieces have been acquired for many museums and other public and private collections including Arizona University and most recently The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.! !

Tectonic resist curling piece with porcelain lid!

Training originally with David Leach and then at Dartington, Tim has worked from his present studio and gallery in Woodbury, East Devon for the last twenty years. He is a writer and exhibition curator and also teaches and lectures widely in the UK and abroad. He is a Fellow of the Crafts Potters Association of Great Britain and Honourary President of the Westcountry Potters Association.!


Deep crackled glazed Form with red interior!

Faceted bowl white crackle glaze! !

Lidded resist Domed box!

Small resist Humbug!

Narrow neck Bottle form! 21!

Mandy Parslow

Mandy Parslow’s vessel forms are fired in a wood fuelled salt kiln. She writes “the firing appears to physically embed my landscape in the work. Each piece is both caressed and assaulted by the flame, ash and salt vapour. Their surfaces are the record of a journey.

Handled eliptical vessel!



Light shifts across the land altering colour, form and texture; varying by the minute, by the season. Marks left by human endeavour punctuate these changes; ploughed fields, meandering paths. Some of these patterns describe ancient cultural landscapes; others show current activity as the landscape continues to be shaped by man and nature. My ceramic practice explores a sense of place through landscape and objects. Forms evolve from the vernacular containers and tools of rural life now preserved in museums. Conserved behind glass, no longer utilitarian, they resonate for different reasons. !

Barrel vessel!




Barrel vessel!

Barrel vessel!

Barrel vessel!

Barrel vessel!

A lifelong exploration of the vessel and the unpredictable technique of wood-firing are appropriate ways to explore these concerns. The rootedness, physicality and close attention over a long time required by the kiln echoes a farmer’s knowledge and bond to the land. The firing appears to physically embed my landscape in the work. Each piece is both caressed and assaulted by the flame, ash and salt vapour moving through the kiln in the intense heat of the firing. Their surfaces are a record of this journey.


Eliptical vessel!

Eliptical vessel!

Handled eliptical vessel! !


Nic Collins

Side-fired bottle! !

Nic Collins fires his anagama kiln for three days. This is the culmination of a making cycle during which he produces his large plates and bottles. He describes the post firing period as one of the most exciting. Grinding and cleaning carbon and embers from the pots, revealing their colours and fire markings.


Nic has now been using clay for almost 30 years. His first encounters with woodfiring began because he had no other way to fire his work. In his late teens and early twenties he began building kilns and wheels and sourcing his own clay from the local river banks. He experimented with raku, sawdust firings and salt glazing.!

Side-fired bottle!


Vase textured with

Round-bottomed bowl!


In January 1988 Nic started his own workshop at Powdermills in the heart of Dartmoor. His first kiln there was an fast fire Olsen type kiln. In 1991 he built a large Anagama kiln in which to fire garden pots and domestic wares. At that time there were very few Anagama kilns in the UK. The only other was used by fellow potter, neighbour and friend Svend Bayer. Much experience was gained on both sides, through mutual firing help (between them up to ten firings per year).!

Jug with ash! !

Small jar! 28!

Chawan – tea bowl!

Guinomi! !

Chawan – tea bowl!


Chawan – tea bowl!

Since the early 90s Nic's pots have dramatically changed, mainly due to influence from effects of the kiln. For example: when side stoking the Anagama inevitably pots would be knocked over , falling into the fire box areas and be buried in ash and ember. In the early days these pots would be discarded as failures, but now this type of pot is Nic's goal ! Nic builds several kilns a year to suit changing pot styles and firing ideas. The alchemy of wood firing is still fascinating to Nic with each firing bringing fresh ideas for new pots and 29! new kilns.

Owen Quinlan Owen Quinlan has reduced his range of forms to a single shape in order to focus his interest on experimental material combinations and fining techniques. “The driving factor in my work surrounds the anticipation of opening the kiln and the sense of elation or disappointment with the new results. The two aspects are very much intertwined�.


Mesh form!


My art practice explores the material world and how we have come to inhabit it. The geological processes which have shaped our surroundings, and the many ways which we in turn shape and alter these are central to my work.

Animate Object 3!

Animate Object 1! !

Animate Object 2!

As a maker of objects, I’m drawn to certain qualities. Objects with dual characteristics, both natural and industrial appeal to me. Those that inhabit that fine threshold between one state and the next most of all. Locally, the Claddagh shoreline is a rich resource for my research.

Animate Object 4! 31!

On closer inspection, its sands constitute as much man-made material as organic. The countless pieces of brick, delft, glass, plastic and metal, slowly eroding along its shoreline have now equally come to constitute this landscape alongside its naturally occurring sands. Places like this resonate with human activity of past and present. They illustrate how the impact we have on our environment is often profound and sometimes permanent.

How we influence our landscape, and how in turn our lives are recorded on Environment to Object 1!

the materials we come into contact with are central themes to my work. This is something I try to capture in the objects I make.



Environment to Object 2! !


Jack Doherty

‘My work explores vessels and the ancient layers of cultural resonance embedded within archetypal forms. Made from porcelain, the forms are thrown then carved and shaped reflecting the fluidity of the material and physicality of making. The elemental colour and surface texture are created by the fusion of fire and soda in the intense heat of the kiln,leaving behind a subtle palette of

‘Guardian Vessel’!




Pod Form!

Pod Form!

Pod Form!

Conical 11!

Conical 1!

Conical! 35!

Cylindrical vessel!

Tall Cylindrical vessel! !

Cylindrical vessel!

Tall Cylindrical vessel!

Cylindrical vessel!

Tall Cylindrical vessel! 36!

The Potters !


Jack!Doherty! !






Ruthanne!Tudball! 37!

The gallery Gallerytop was formed in 2004 by artists Gill Wilson and Keith Logan. The gallery curates six exhibitions a year which are organised around a theme and have included paintings, sculpture, limited edition prints, ceramics and glass

Gill Wilson Gill Wilson gained a 1st class Degree in Constructed Textiles and travelled in Japan studying papermaking. She has had a papermaking studio for over 30 years and her work has been commissioned in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Israel, the Lebanon and more recently in the USA. She has been a Craft Officer for the Arts Council and for five years she was the manager of the nationally acclaimed Harley Gallery on the Welbeck estate. She is the founder Director, !curator and creative visionary of gallerytop

Keith Logan Keith Logan gained a Degree in Fine Art (painting) and began his career as a designer and illustrator at Ladybird Books in Loughborough. He has a Masters Degree in Education and he was Head of Creative Arts at West Nottinghamshire College and subsequently Head of Creative Skills at Derby College. He has always painted and has exhibited his work in the gallery. With an interest in digital media, he manages the marketing and social media aspects of gallerytop 38!

Gallerytop was formed in 2004 by artists Gill Wilson and Keith Logan. The gallery curates six exhibitions a year which are organised around a theme and have included paintings, sculpture, limited edition prints, ceramics and glass. !

We commissioned Jack Doherty to curate a ceramics exhibition to offer a focused collection of work. In this way we are able to offer an exhibition which has been conceived and selected by an outstanding practitioner with a deep understanding and passion for ceramics. The purpose of the exhibition is to celebrate potters and the extraordinary processes they utilize in their work. It’s also to shine a light on the aesthetics involved and this is particularly well illustrated by Nic Collins observation:

‘I congratulate gallerytop for securing a fascinating exhibition: not only a group of beautiful work but also a mini course in educating those of us who are interested in contemporary ceramics but not technically knowledgeable in the various process of making. I am sure that this inspired exhibition will bring many aficionados of new ceramics to this wonderfully energetic and eclectic gallery, I know that they will not be disappointed.’ The Duke of Devonshire August 2016

…’when side stoking the Anagama, inevitably pots would be knocked over, falling into the fire box areas and be buried in ash and ember. In the early days these pots would be discarded as failures, but now this type of pot is Nic's goal.’ The gallery is very fortunate to be close to the Chatsworth estate and the Duke of Devonshire is well known for his enthusiasm and advocacy for contemporary art, with a particular interest in ceramics:.



! gallerytop Chatsworth Road Rowsley Derbyshire DE4 2EH 01629 735580 ! 40!

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