Issuu on Google+

includes dvd

SVEND BAYER

GOLDMARK [1]


To check availability and to view work by Svend Bayer and our other potters, please click below, www.modernpots.com. A sumptuous hard copy of this monograph including dvd documentary on Bayer can also be purchased for £10 + p&p. Call us on 01572 821 424. Bayer’s pots have a classic presence yet an immediately recognizable signature. Sebastian Blackie

Price £10 inc dvd


SVEND BAYER


SVEND BAYER

Essay by Sebastian Blackie

GOLDMARK 2010


[7]


Svend Bayer

Svend Bayer established his pottery at Sheepwash in the mid 1970s, a site chosen for its proximity to the ball clay deposits of north Devon, a sustainable source of firewood and, at the time, an area with affordable properties for a potter. I visited during this first year with a group of students returning from Wenford Bridge, a little weary having fired Michael Cardew’s big wood kiln. We were amazed by Bayer’s kiln, it seemed massive to us. A dragon kiln (or split bamboo kiln so named after its shape) with a 600 cubic foot chamber and an arch span of six foot. Our amazement grew as we learnt that he had built it almost single-handed with some help at weekends from Australian potter David Stuchbery and was firing every two months. The kiln had one long chamber but was subdivided by saggers that directed the flames to form firing zones. These enabled the maturing temperature to be reached successively throughout the whole kiln assisted by side stoking. It was a beautiful tool that used the heat with great intelligence and economy. Although I have since seen much bigger kilns in China and Japan I do not recall any other as big serving one maker. I returned a year or so later to find the dragon kiln replaced by one of similar capacity but more seductive in shape. Swelling like a whale, tapering to the exit flue; a form that reflects the expansion and contraction of gas as it passes through the chamber. It was one of many that Bayer has built on this site, all based on kilns he had studied in Thailand, each designed with a sensibility that does not separate the kiln’s aesthetic beauty from its working function.

[9]


These kilns and their load represent massive amounts of human energy: to build, fill and fire. The clay body is prepared, the pots made, the wood cut and stacked. . . . Bayer’s pots have grown out of this total commitment to the whole process. His pots do not stand alone but stand for the work that brought them to being. On one of my subsequent visits he was nursing a sparrow hawk with a broken wing. A stunningly beautiful wild creature held firmly but tenderly in his hands. The hawk seemed to encapsulate Bayer’s single mindedness and strength, its rich plumage of subtle browns a representation of the aesthetic that guides Bayer’s work, but his gentle restraint on the bird seemed like a metaphor of his approach to clay and fire. Too dominant a hold would kill the thing one wishes to preserve, too little might allow it to escape. Like the hawk, Bayer’s pots are nurtured to independence so that ultimately they are free to express some essence of natural beauty. And like the hawk we should value Bayer’s pots as an important rarity in an industrialized landscape. Bayer’s work is the product of evolution. As such the quality of the work grows through time. It has an authority and clarity that can only be achieved from a lifetime of passionate commitment. Refinements are subtle and may be made to any aspect of the process. How the kiln is packed is as important a creative decision as the thickness of a rim or the placing of a pattern. Like

[ 10 ]


128


instruments in an orchestra each element must be tuned and find a shared rhythm. Quality of this kind must be built on solid foundations. Svend Bayer trained with Michael Cardew who in turn had been an apprentice to Bernard Leach. Cardew had initially been taught to throw by the country potter Fishley Holland and subsequent to working with Leach he re-established a traditional earthenware pottery at Winchcombe with the help of a former employee, Elijah Comfort. Cardew appreciated the values of these potters who made simple unpretentious work whose beauty was not fetishized but arose in response to practical constraints and process and well-understood needs. He writes revealingly: Style in all arts springs as much out of material techniques as from national character. (Exhibition Catalogue Berkeley Galleries, June 1962, Michael Cardew and Pupils). It is an approach that seems to have rubbed off on Bayer who, following his apprenticeship with Cardew, spent six months as a thrower at the traditional Devon pottery factory of Brannams and a year researching wood kilns first hand in Asia before establishing his own pottery. Svend Bayer’s work uses the same aesthetic language as many other Occidentals looking to Asia for inspiration but it seems to be orientated very differently from others. Some artist potters in the West adopted an Oriental style of work but often as not using

[ 12 ]


31


materials and processes quite ‘other’ than those used to produce the original on which they are based. Bayer’s pots however seem to have grown from the tools he has adopted (there is design logic to forms that are stacked without the support of kiln furniture). The work has its influences and reflects the eclectic hybridity of the Western studio pottery movement. It owes something to the sophisticated simplicity of the Tz’ou Chou bottles of the Chinese Sung Dynasty, the earthy grandeur of the Tamba and Tokoname kilns in Japan as well as the charm of the German Bellarmine and north Devon jug, but one feels it is an influence that has power for having been digested through doing. It emerges in Bayer’s pots with authenticity and conviction. They demonstrate the power of tradition when it is understood as a force that drives us forward; Bayer’s pots have a classic presence yet an immediately recognizable signature. Bayer is able to throw magnificent and spectacularly large jars but also quiet, intimate little beakers and bowls of outstanding quality that reward exploration by hand as well as eye. He imparts an almost frenetic energy to the form so that the clay’s softness and plasticity when thrown can still be ‘read’ in the fired pot. Bayer sometimes uses a few classic oriental glazes and a small range of decorative motifs but these anticipate that the main work of decoration and glazing will take place within the kiln.

[ 15 ]


144


Each firing takes about 96 hours and a similar period to cool. Astonishingly the kiln is held at around 1300 degrees centigrade for a marathon two and a half days requiring almost continuous stoking. At this high temperature the ash from the combusted wood, rich in flux, is carried through the kiln by flame. The ash combines with the silica in the clay and forms glaze. At first a thin sheen, then as the ash increases, a watery glass that will run, drip and pool depending on the form and position of the pot. As the quantity of deposited ash increases the chemical balance alters to a crystalline matt glaze and the colours and textures diversify. Where pots have had glaze applied prior to the firing the ash will significantly modify their appearance. The packing and position of each pot will determine the path of the flame and the exposure of the pots to fly ash. The kiln chamber might be likened to a pool in a mountain stream; the pots to rocks that deflect the water’s flow, creating complex eddies. Just as with water pouring into a pool, the most dynamic movement in a kiln is where the flame enters the chamber and it is here that one finds the greatest deposits of ash and the more crusty surfaces. Bayer normally places a large pot at this point to split the flame (early Japanese Anagama kilns have a clay post in this position with similar effect). The flame-borne ash may not penetrate to all parts of the pot’s surface however, producing great variations in surface with strong aesthetic appeal. Where pots touch each other they may leave a tell tale kiss of naked clay. However this is not always the case and glaze can

[ 17 ]


18

[ 18 ]


21

[ 19 ]


29

[ 20 ]


glue the pots together or render them permanently welded to kiln furniture unless precautions are taken. Bayer uses the traditional oriental method of setting the pots on seashells sometimes backed with wads of china clay. Although the calcium that forms the shell is a powerful flux when mixed with silica it is highly refractory in isolation. The scars left by the shells are decorative but their presence has its roots in a practical imperative. Perhaps because Europeans have tended to decorate their pots with applied patterns, images and emblems, we lack a developed vocabulary with which to appreciate the kind of ceramic surface Bayer deploys. They might be thought to be an act of nature, unpredictable accidents, the product of chance. Certainly they celebrate nature and recognize its power but just as a garden is a cultivation of nature so too Bayer’s work, however natural it may seem, is essentially segregated from that which it represents. Although they manifest the existence of earth and fire the pots are representations, articulating and mediating our relationship to our conception of the natural world. But the engagement is more visceral than intellectual. Bayer’s pots arouse our physicality, their corporality reminds us of our own. Paradoxically, as so often happens with outstanding pots, their very materiality takes us by the hand and leads us to the immaterial.

[ 21 ]


This Goldmark exhibition confirms Bayer as a quite exceptional potter whose work is an enlightenment. It is as playful as it is powerful. I am reminded of the cellist Pablo Casals whose interpretation brings new meaning and vigour to classical compositions. In doing so Casals brings forth the character of the instrument as well as the music. Like Casals, Bayer offers us something familiar and, at the same time, breathtakingly fresh and new; a quality that is retained and strengthened over time. I have two bowls from one of my visits in the ’70s. I realize now that I have been using them almost daily since. They have given good service, sensual pleasure and a kind of spiritual sustenance for over 35 years. This exhibition reminds me of a thought in Other People’s Trades by Primo Levi, As happens with all well-structured exhibitions, indeed as happens any time one partakes of spiritual food, one leaves the exhibit nourished and at the same time hungrier than before.

Sebastian Blackie is a ceramic artist. Author of Dear Mr Leach, A&C Black, and Professor of Ceramics at the University of Derby.

[ 22 ]


3

[ 24 ]


11

[ 25 ]


4

[ 26 ]


12

[ 27 ]


138, 135, 20

[ 28 ]


35

[ 29 ]


31

[ 30 ]


26

[ 31 ]


152


136


165

[ 34 ]


157

[ 35 ]


78, 76

142, 149, 150, 148

[ 36 ]


169, 173

167, 159

[ 37 ]


117, 113, 114, 112

125, 126, 122, 124

208, 214, 207, 210, 206

[ 38 ]


109, 221

204, 211, 105


89

74

75

86

88

72


146

[ 41 ]


37

[ 42 ]


161

[ 43 ]


38

[ 44 ]


15

[ 45 ]


23

[ 46 ]


163

[ 47 ]


32

[ 48 ]


41

[ 49 ]


6


9

[ 51 ]


1


13

[ 53 ]


215


Illustrated Pots

All sizes in cm

1. Large Jar. Unglazed with heavy ashing

73.0 x 60.0

3. Large Jar. Unglazed with heavy ashing

67.5 x 54.0

4. Large Jar. Kaki with heavy ashing

64.0 x 53.5

6. Large Lidded Jar. Unglazed with heavy ashing

63.0 x 49.5

8. Large Jar. Kaki with heavy ashing

69.5 x 54.5

9. Tall Bottle. Tenmoku with heavy ashing

56.5 x 32.5

11. Tall Bottle. Shino with heavy ashing & shells

54.0 x 34.0

12. Tall Bottle. Shino with heavy ashing & shells

57.0 x 34.0

13. Tall Bottle. Kaki with heavy ashing & shells

52.0 x 34.0

15. Jar. Kaki with heavy ashing & shells

45.0 x 40.0

16. Jar with 3 Lugs. Celadon with heavy ashing & shells

26.0 x 20.0

18. Large Dish with Rim. Tenmoku with red shino trail

16.0 x 53.0

20. Large Bottle with Handle. Unglazed with heavy ashing

44.0 x 29.5

21. Large Bottle with Handle. Unglazed, heavy ashing & shells 42.5 x 28.0 23. Jar. Kaki with heavy ashing

42.0 x 33.5

26. Jar with 3 Lugs. Kaki with heavy ashing & shells

32.5 x 26.0

29. Jar with 3 Lugs. Celadon with heavy ashing & shells

36.5 x 30.0

31. Jar with 3 Lugs. Celadon with heavy ashing & shells

26.0 x 21.0

32. Jar with 3 Lugs. Celadon with heavy ashing & shells

31.5 x 26.5

33. Jar. Shino with heavy ashing & shells

36.0 x 28.5

35. Jar with 3 Lugs. Unglazed with heavy ashing

26.0 x 20.5

37. Dish with Rim. Shino with red shino trail

12.0 x 43.0

38. Dish with Rim. Tenmoku with red shino trail

12.0 x 41.0

39. Large Serving Dish. Combed black slip & celadon

15.0 x 39.5

41. Dish. Combed black slip & celadon

10.0 x 35.5

72. Bowl with Rim. Tenmoku with red shino trail

6.5 x 19.0

74. Bowl with Rim. Tenmoku with red shino trail

7.0 x 20.0

75. Bowl with Rim. Tenmoku with red shino trail

7.5 x 19.5

76. Pouring Bowl. Shino

10.0 x 25.0

78. Pouring Bowl. Shino

10.0 x 24.5

[ 55 ]


103

86. Bowl with Rim. Shino with kaki trail

7.5 x 20.0

88. Bowl with Rim. Shino with red shino trail

8.0 x 20.0

89. Bowl with Rim. Shino with red shino trail

8.0 x 20.0

103. Small Serving Bowl. Shino with iron underglaze

12.5 x 16.0

105. Teapot. Shino with iron underglaze

16.0 x 19.0

109. Teapot. Kaki with cane handle

20.0 x 20.0

112. Beaker. Shino with iron underglaze

9.0 x 10.0

113. Beaker. Shino with iron underglaze

9.0 x 10.0

114. Beaker. Shino with iron underglaze

10.0 x 10.5

117. Beaker. Shino with iron underglaze

9.5 x 10.5

122. Bottle. Shino with iron underglaze

14.0 x 11.0

124. Bottle. Shino with iron underglaze

14.5 x 11.0

125. Bottle. Shino with iron underglaze

15.0 x 11.0

126. Bottle. Shino with iron underglaze

14.5 x 10.5

135. Bottle with Handle. Unglazed with heavy ashing & shells

19.0 x 14.0

136. Bottle with Handle. Unglazed with heavy ashing & shells

19.0 x 13.5

138. Bottle with Handle. Unglazed with heavy ashing & shells

22.0 x 14.5

142. Bottle with Handle. Unglazed with heavy ashing

22.5 x 15.5

144. Jug. Unglazed with heavy ashing. Celadon within

27.5 x 22.5

146. Jar. Unglazed with heavy ashing

20.0 x 17.5

148. Bottle. Unglazed with heavy ashing

16.5 x 12.5

149. Bottle. Unglazed with heavy ashing

16.5 x 10.5

150. Bottle. Unglazed with heavy ashing

15.0 x 12.0

[ 56 ]


16

[ 57 ]


156

[ 58 ]


203, 199, 202

152. Bottle. Celadon

18.0 x 12.5

156. Small Jar. Kaki with heavy ashing

20.5 x 17.5

157. Flattened Bottle. Kaki with shells

41.5 x 22.0

159. Storage Jar. Unglazed with heavy ashing

24.5 x 19.5

161. Storage Jar with Handles. Shino with finger decoration

29.5 x 30.5

163. Storage Jar with Handles. Kaki

23.0 x 23.5

165. Storage Jar with Handles. Kaki

23.0 x 23.0

167. Small Storage Jar. Unglazed with heavy ashing

20.0 x 14.5

169. Medium Jug. Unglazed with heavy ashing. Celadon within 18.0 x 17.0 173. Small Jug. Unglazed with heavy ashing. Celadon within

15.5 x 14.0

199. Small Bowl. Red shino

5.5 x 7.5

202. Small Bowl. Red shino

5.5 x 8.0

203. Small Bowl. Red shino

5.0 x 8.0

204. Small Beaker. Shino with iron underglaze

7.5 x 6.0

206. Small Beaker. Shino with iron underglaze

7.5 x 6.5

207. Small Beaker. Shino with iron underglaze

7.5 x 6.0

208. Small Beaker. Shino with iron underglaze

8.0 x 6.0

210. Small Beaker. Shino with iron underglaze

8.0 x 6.0

211. Small Beaker. Shino with iron underglaze

7.5 x 6.5

214. Small Beaker. Shino with iron underglaze 215. Jar. Unglazed with heavy ashing 221. Small Bowl. Kaki

7.5 x 6.0 52.0 x 47.0 4.5 x 10.5

[ 59 ]


39

[ 60 ]


33

[ 61 ]


Biographical Notes

1946

Born in Uganda to Danish parents. The youngest of four.

1965-68 Exeter University. 1969-72 Pupil of Michael Cardew. 1972-73 Thrower at Brannam's Pottery. 1973

Marry. Travel to Japan, S. Korea and S.E. Asia to look at potteries and big woodfired kilns.

1974 1975

Set up Cornwall Bridge Pottery in Connecticut with Todd Piker. Set up pottery at Sheepwash in Devon. The pottery site was chosen for its proximity to the North Devon ball clay mines and local sawmills. Since 1975 has lived, worked and raised a family at Sheepwash.

Exhibitions Solo and group exhibitions both in Britain and Europe and overseas in N. America, Australia, New Zealand, Kuwait, India, Malaysia and Brazil. Solo exhibitions since 2000:Harlequin Gallery, Greenwich. Beardsmore Gallery, London. Rufford Ceramics Centre, Rufford, Notts. North Cornwall Gallery, Cammelford, Cornwall. University of Utah, Logan, Utah, U.S.A. Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A. Sturt Gallery, Mittagong, N.S.W., Australia. Gallery Lykke, Odense, Denmark. Beaux Arts, Bath.

[ 62 ]


Awards

Residencies

1982

John Ruskin Award.

2000

1983

S.W. Arts Major Award.

1984

S.W. Arts Major Award.

2001

Workshops

2002

Utah State University, Logan, Utah, U.S.A. Sturt, Mittagong, N.S.W., Australia. New London Arts Center,

Has given workshops in

New London, Minnesota,

Britain, Germany, Holland,

U.S.A.

Belgium, France, Canada,

2003

U.S.A., Australia and New

Sturt, Mittagong, N.S.W., Australia.

Zealand.

Kilns I love designing and building woodfired kilns. I have built 14 and have at least three more in the pipeline. Most have been for me but I have also built kilns for others in Britain, Australia and the U.S.A.. The first two were 600 cubic feet. The largest, which I had for 10 years, was 800 cubic feet and the smallest, built for a friend in Wales, is 50 cubic feet. All are based on kilns I saw in Thailand and Korea on my year-long travels there. Their beauty is more important than their function, but fortunately the two things seem to be related. They have all worked. S.B.

[ 64 ]


8


Goldmark Gallery, Uppingham, Rutland, LE15 9SQ 01572 821424 Text © Sebastian Blackie 2010 Photographs © Jay Goldmark Design Porter / Goldmark ISBN

978-1-870507-72-1 2010

[ 66 ]


GOLDMARK CERAMICS MONOGRAPHS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Phil Rogers New Pots 2005 Clive Bowen New Pots 2006 Lisa Hammond New Pots 2006 Mike Dodd Recent Pots 2007 Ken Matsuzaki (2007) Thirty Years of a Living Tradition Svend Bayer (2007) New Pots Jim Malone (2008) The Pursuit of Beauty

8 9 10 11 12 13

Phil Rogers (2008) A Potter of our Time Lisa Hammond (2009) Unconscious Revelation Ken Matsuzaki New Pots 2009 Mike Dodd New Pots 2009 Clive Bowen New Pots 2009 Svend Bayer New Pots 2010

GOLDMARK CERAMICS FILMS 1 3

Phil Rogers A Passion For Pots Svend Bayer

2

Ken Matsuzaki Elemental

For further details or to order: visit www.modernpots.com or phone 01572 821424


[ 68 ]

Goldmark Uppingham Rutland England www.modernpots.com


Svend Bayer - Ceramics 2010