GOLDMARK [[ 11 ]]
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Essay by Simon Fletcher
As I gathered my thoughts in preparation for writing this essay, I turned to Soetsu Yanagiâ€™s book The Unknown Craftsman. The clarity of his thinking has to me been never less than revelatory, and is a perpetual source of fresh insight. Thumbing through, I immersed myself in his words for an hour or so, and then upon closing the back cover, I was struck by this simple introductory heading - Objects Born, Not Made. I remembered that as a student, this statement had puzzled and intrigued me. What did it mean, and how was the creation of these profound objects achieved? Encountering this bold assertion once again, it seemed imbued with a particular resonance. According to his autobiography, Mike Doddâ€™s first encounter with studio pottery was as a schoolboy in 1956; he had gazed through a shop window at a potter at work. Later he was encouraged to make his own first pots by an inspirational teacher, the aptly named Donald Potter. As he moved into adulthood, he went on to study medicine at Cambridge; but although he completed these studies, other more compelling interests held sway and his career soon changed direction. After only a year at Hammersmith College of Art and with the confidence of youth, he began his first pottery at Edburton in Sussex. Amongst potters in the UK, Dodd is now almost unique in terms of the sheer continuity in his creative output. There has barely been a pause from that moment forward, and he has diligently followed the
path ever since. Yet in talking of his work, he still speaks with the enthusiasm of someone new to the field. He must have passed Gladwell’s ten thousand hours a long, long time ago, but though the depth and range of his study is great, his talk is not of past achievements, but of new areas to explore and ideas yet unrealised. One soon understands that what motivates him, what drives him forward, is not a blunt desire for mastery, but the passion to engage with the perpetual search to understand the mystery we call Beauty. Studying the pots from the three firings that supply the body of this show, I began to sense that I was not simply looking in some kind of progressive way at the latest pots from a maker at the top of his field. Considering individual pieces more deeply, it became apparent that they often transcend the maker himself, possessing a life and authority of their own. Perhaps this then is the key to understanding the significance and power that resides within his work. Yanagi’s objects born, not made, were almost always the product of endless repetition by craftsmen whose first concern was utility, and then subsequently, the quiet embellishment of the object. But he also held out the hope for the modern artist-craftsman, that a similar innate beauty might be achieved through a deep and intuitive understanding of tradition and one’s chosen materials and techniques. When this becomes fluent, second nature – as much a part of one’s creative being almost as thought itself, then a freedom can be achieved which truly liberates the imagination. Although at first glance Mike Dodd’s work seems to fit broadly within the category that has come to be known as Anglo-Oriental, the sheer diversity of his repertoire distinguishes him from those
more dogmatic individuals among his contemporaries. Many different aspects of his creative output exhibit a far more wideranging and investigatory approach. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the variety and richness of his glazes. Almost from the beginning of his career, he has involved himself deeply with the prospecting and incorporation of naturally occurring materials as glaze ingredients. No other potter working in the UK today has engaged in such a thorough study of found materials, or made them so integral to their work. Penlee Stone, Somerset Basalt, Corsican Pine Ash, River Iron and Peat Clay are just some such minerals to be found in his descriptions of pots. None of these are to be seen listed amongst the homogenous ingredients in the catalogues of pottery suppliers; they have been gleaned directly at source, and their singularly unrefined and impure character contributes significantly to the depth and sophistication of the glazes you see here. The range of forms on offer also displays a much wider sphere of influence than this strict bracketing would imply. While it is true that a proportion of his forms might be seen to have their root in either the Far East or in English Medievalism, there are also shapes that could well have derived from early European sources. An ongoing range of waisted forms remind one of Italian Majolica apothecary jars; and some vessels, with an almost inverse balance in the way they flare from shoulder to hip, recall early Roman pieces in the British Museum. Needless to say, despite their bold shape, there is still a subtlety to their profile which draws a sigh. The necks of his taller vases and bottles, which can sometimes be the undoing of the works of others, are invariably a delight, poised and characterized by a refined elegance.
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Since moving to his current workshop Doddâ€™s decorative vocabulary has expanded greatly, and if you are lucky enough to visit his home and studio, the source of this inspiration is not hard to locate. As one surveys his garden, which has a distinctly Oudolfian natural beauty, and the broad, expansive Somerset landscape beyond, it is impossible not to encounter the echo or reflection of the many decorative devices and techniques that he employs. From shimmering grass to the graceful willow and onward to the majestic sweep of ploughed fields, the visual links surround you. To my eye, particular mention should be made of the linear almost calligraphic motifs he sometimes uses under a liquid ash glaze. Whether flora or fauna, his intuitive ability to produce these images with such surety of touch, is deeply poetic. In their execution there is a sublime, lyrical quality that is quite breathtaking. He has himself written about the creative state of mind required to produce such imagery, calling it Spirit in Action, and I cannot help but be reminded of William Blake, who wrote that, â€Śto the Eyes of the man of Imagination, Nature is Imagination itself. As one takes in the whole; the beauty of the work and location, his veganism and deep commitment to animal welfare issues, it becomes apparent that he is constantly striving to achieve unity not just in creative terms, but also across the spectrum of life itself. It would be a mistake to assume that this is founded solely upon romantic idealism. One can also observe in his make-up a more contemplative and analytical dimension, a scientific and reasoned approach which would have been employed to great advantage during the early training in medicine. This is the attribute that has for example, enabled him to determinedly undertake the glaze development, a task that has undoubtedly required considerable patience and objectivity.
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The pots presented here, though possessed it may seem of a quiet simplicity, are nevertheless objects that inspire us to dwell upon matters of a deep and profound nature. They are not meretricious projections of the intellect or angst, but encourage one to look outward and beyond. They are utilitarian, but instill a contemplative state of mind. They speak softly to us of the materials from which they are made, and then of the wider natural world; but perhaps essentially, and in a deeper more spiritual way, they have much to tell us about creativity itself. Simon Fletcher
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A selection of domestic ware.
Large casserole Individual handled casserole Side handled pipkin Large and small baking dish
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Medium casserole Individual handled casserole Side handled pipkin Salad/mixing bowl Set of 6 small bowls
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All sizes in cm
1. Large Vase. Dimpled, basalt black glaze
60.0 x 32.0
2. Large Vase. Fluted, basalt black glaze
55.0 x 28.5
3. Tall Vase. Two ash glazes
49.5 x 23.0
6. Textured Vase. Two ash glazes
24.0 x 25.5
10. Waisted Vase. Ribbed & incised, two ash glazes
28.5 x 19.5
16. Bottle Vase. Faceted, peat clay glaze
26.0 x 16.0
17. Flattened Bottle Vase. Two handled, two ash glazes
23.0 x 16.0
18. Bottle Vase. Impressed, iron glaze
25.0 x 18.0
20. Vase. Paddled, granite glaze
19.0 x 17.0
21. Squared Vase. Wax pattern, Penlee stone
16.5 x 15.5
23. Porcelain Box. Brush decoration 24. Vase. Box ash glaze with iron brushwork
5.5 x 8.0 11.0 x 12.5
25. Jug. Combed, two ash glazes
27.0 x 19.5
26. Side Handled Teapot. Combed, basalt black
13.0 x 18.0
28. Store Jar. Porphyry ash glaze
26.0 x 20.5
29. Store Jar. Granite & ash glaze
25.0 x 21.0
30. Bowl. Faceted, basalt black and ash glaze inside
12.5 x 24.0
33. Set of 8 Footed Bowls. Basalt black glaze, ash inside
7.5 x 16.0
38. Waisted Vase. Two lugs, impressed & incised, ash glazes 22.0 x 17.0 39. One Handled Bottle Vase. Opalescent ash glaze
17.0 x 13.0
44. Narrow Necked Vase. Faceted, ash & river iron glaze
18.5 x 13.0
58. Bowl. Opalescent ash glaze over broken slip
10.0 x 11.0
66. Yunomi. Three dot decoration, ash glaze
10.5 x 9.5
68. Yunomi. Wax resist pattern
10.0 x 9.5
72. Tall Jug. Banded, two ash glazes
32.0 x 19.5
73. Tall Vase. Ribbed and incised, ash glaze
59.0 x 25.0
74. Tall Vase. Dimpled, porphyry ash glaze
55.5 x 25.5
75. Tall Bottle Vase. Granite glaze
49.5 x 22.5
76. Tall Bottle Vase. Combed, granite & ash glazes
50.0 x 23.0
77. Vase. Dimpled, blue grey / white ash glaze
44.5 x 22.5
78. Vase. Granite glaze with hornfels stone
45.5 x 23.0
79. Flattened Bottle Vase. Blue grey / white ash glaze
35.5 x 20.5
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80. Vase. Ribbed, granite & ash glaze
30.0 x 21.0
82. Faceted Vase. Basalt black and ash glaze
28.5 x 19.5
83. Faceted Vase. Porphyry ash glaze
27.5 x 20.5
93. Vase. Broken slip, ash glaze
25.0 x 14.5
95. Faceted Vase. Granite glaze with river iron
32.0 x 19.5
97. Dish. Wax pattern, Penlee stone overglaze
9.0 x 36.5
98. Dish. Finger trail, Cornish stone glaze
10.0 x 34.5
102. Faceted Vase. Basalt black & granite glaze
18.0 x 12.5
103. One Handled Vase. Penlee stone over Cornish stone
17.5 x 13.0
105. Fluted Vase. Porphyry ash glaze
18.0 x 13.5
120. Textured Vase. Two ash glazes
35.5 x 24.5
122. Large Footed Bowl. Ash glazes
12.5 x 30.0
124. Bottle Vase. Blue grey / white ash glaze
30.0 x 19.5
125. One Handled Vase. Broken slip, ash glaze
23.0 x 17.0
129. Faceted Vase. Wax pattern, Penlee stone
24.0 x 16.5
130. Two Handled Vase. Wax pattern, Penlee stone
23.0 x 16.0
131. Bottle Vase. Wax pattern, Penlee stone
24.5 x 17.0
132. Vase. Wax pattern, Penlee stone
24.0 x 14.0
136. Bowl. Wax pattern, Penlee stone
12.0 x 21.0
153. Yunomi. Faceted, basalt black glaze
10.0 x 9.0
154. Yunomi. Faceted, porphyry ash glaze
10.0 x 8.5
155. Yunomi. Ribbed & roped, ash glaze
9.5 x 9.0
157. Yunomi. Wax pattern, Penlee stone
10.0 x 9.0
159. Yunomi. Wax pattern, Penlee stone 162. Yunomi. Basalt black & granite
9.5 x 8.5 10.5 x 9.0
166. Porcelain Bowl. Fluted, ash glaze
8.5 x 17.5
167. Porcelain Faceted Box. Celadon glaze
7.0 x 10.0
170. Porcelain Fluted Vase. Ash celadon glaze
16.0 x 13.0
171. Narrow Necked Porcelain Vase. Celadon glaze
19.0 x 12.0
172. Narrow Necked Porcelain Vase. Cornish stone glaze
18.0 x 13.0
173. Large Teapot. Porphyry ash glaze
16.0 x 16.5
175. Teapot. Wax pattern, Penlee stone
13.0 x 13.0
176. Yunomi. Broken slip, porphyry ash glaze 179. Teapot. Porphyry ash glaze 203. Porcelain Faceted Box. Granite & ash glaze 205. Large Pedestal Bowl
10.0 x 9.0 13.0 x 13.0 7.5 x 9.0 20.0 x 36.0
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Biographical Notes Born 1943 in Sutton, Surrey.
Bryanston School, Dorset. Studied pottery under Donald Potter (a
Cambridge University. Studied Natural Sciences Tripos (Medicine).
Hammersmith College of Art, London. One year post-graduate
student of Eric Gill). Honours Degree. course in Ceramics.
Started first pottery in Edburton, Sussex. Two chambered wood and oil fired kiln. Ash glazed stoneware and porcelain.
Moved pottery to larger premises at Woods Place Farmhouse, Whatlington, Battle, Sussex.
Moved pottery to Cornwall. Built a wood-fired Korean climbing kiln. Used only local materials for the bricks. Started making glazes from local granites, clays, wood ashes, irons, ochres etc.
Asked by Survival International and Oxfam to build a large climbing Korean kiln, similar to the one built in Cornwall, in the central jungles of Peru for the "Amuesha Indian Project" - a project aimed at keeping the indigenous people in their natural home. Spent 6 months there under the guidance of the American project leader, Connie Talbot.
Moved pottery to Cumbria, concentrating on using local materials, granites, hornfels, andesites, irons, ashes etc. in the making of glazes.
Pottery at Manor Farm, Cheddington, Beaminster, Dorset.
Moved to present pottery at Dove Workshops.
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Teaching Full-time 1981-1986 1981
Senior lecturer (Vocational Pottery Course) at Cumbria College of Art, Carlisle, Cumbria.
Department Head (Vocational Pottery Course) at Cumbria College of Art, Carlisle, Cumbria.
Part-time Assignments 1972
Farnham College of Art, Surrey.
Medway College of Art, Kent.
Harrow College of Art, Middlesex.
Royal College of Art, London.
Derby College of Art, Derbyshire.
Dundee College of Art, Dundee, Scotland.
Manchester Polytechnic, Manchester.
Preston Polytechnic, Preston, Lancashire.
Addressed International Potters Camp at Aberystwyth, Wales lecture entitled Selling Water by the River.
Bolton Museum, main speaker at Landshut Functional Pottery Conference.
Germany. Workshop at Landshut College for Ceramics.
India. Workshop at Golden Bridge Pottery in Pondicherry.
Guest demonstrator, Irish Ceramics Festival, Kilkenny.
Selected Exhibitions 1972
Group exhibition, Craft Potters Shop, London.
Group exhibition, Amalgam, London.
Solo exhibition, Camelford Museum, Cornwall.
Wood Fired Pottery by Mike Dodd, Craftworks, Guildford.
The Leach Tradition - A Creative Force, Craft Potters Shop, London.
Nine Potters, Paul Rice Gallery, London. Mike Dodd, Amalgam, London (solo).
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Out of the Earth, Craft Potters Shop, London.
Mike Dodd, Amalgam, London (solo).
Mike Dodd and Ken Allen, Woodsplace Farmhouse, Battle.
Pottery by Mike Dodd and John Jelfs, Chestnut Gallery, Bourton-onthe-water.
Group exhibition, Espace La Main, Brussels. Solo exhibition, Beaux Arts, Bath. Form & Function, Contemporary Applied Arts, London.
Mike Dodd - Ash-glazed Pots, Vincent Gallery, Exeter. Mike Dodd - New Work, Woodsplace Farmhouse, Battle. Mike Dodd - New Pots, Amalgam, London (solo).
New Ceramics - Mike Dodd and Phil Rogers, Oxford Gallery, Oxford. Bettles Gallery, Ringwood. On-Line Gallery, Southampton.
Mike Dodd - Recent Pots, Amalgam, London. Bough and Line Gallery, Bath.
Bettles Gallery, Ringwood. On-Line Gallery, Southampton.
Ombersley Gallery, Ombersley. Alpha House Gallery, Sherborne, Dorset. Group exhibition, Hugo Barclay Gallery, Brighton.
Bettles Gallery, Ringwood.
Paddon & Paddon, East Sussex. Alpha House Gallery, Sherborne, Dorset.
Harlequin Gallery, London. Oakwood Gallery, Nottinghamshire.
Dove Workshops, Somerset.
Bettles Gallery, Ringwood. Alpha House Gallery, Sherborne, Dorset.
Paddon & Paddon, East Sussex.
Goldmark Gallery, Uppingham, Rutland.
Harlequin Gallery, London.
Alpha House Gallery, Sherborne, Dorset.
Oakwood Gallery, Nottinghamshire.
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Collections Victoria and Albert Museum, London British Crafts Council Collection, London Bath Study Centre, Bath Cleveland Craft Collection Ulster Museum, Belfast
Articles Articles by Mike Dodd: In Deference of Tradition, Pottery Quarterly, 1974 (invited to a discussion with Bernard Leach in St. Ives, on the strength of this article) Vol. 11, No. 41. Confused Ramblings, Artist's Newsletter, 1982. Letter from Peru, Oxapampa Project, Ceramic Review, 1983. Makers or Breakers, Artist's Newsletter, March 1984. Running a Vocational Course, Real Pottery (formerly Pottery Quarterly) 1986.
Healthy Roots, Artist's Newsletter, June 1987. An American Experience, Artist's Newsletter, January 1993. Function and Dysfunction, Ceramics: Art and Perception, 1998. Trembling on the Edge, article on Patrick Sargent, Ceramic Review, May/June 1999. Other Articles: Tim Proud article on Mike Dodd - Unambiguous Potter, Ceramic Review, Sept/Oct 1987. Mike Dodd by Tanya Harrod in Ceramics Monthly, January 1991. Eileen Lewenstein, Review of China Clay: The Eastern Tradition in British Studio Pottery, Crafts, Sept/Oct 1991. An Interview with Mike Dodd, Studio Pottery, April/May 1994. My Time at Cambridge, CAM, 1997.
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front cover: pot number 6 inside front cover: pot number 203 Mike Dodd pots may be purchased direct from Goldmark Gallery View online at www.modernpots.com Goldmark Gallery, Uppingham, Rutland, LE15 9SQ 01572 821424 email@example.com Text ÂŠ Simon Fletcher 2009 Photographs ÂŠ Jay Goldmark Design Porter / Goldmark ISBN
GOLDMARK CERAMICS MONOGRAPHS 1
Phil Rogers New Pots 2005 2 Clive Bowen New Pots 2006 3 Lisa Hammond New Pots 2006 4 Mike Dodd Recent Pots 2007 5 Ken Matsuzaki (2007) Thirty Years of a Living Tradition 6 Svend Bayer (2007) New Pots 7 Jim Malone (2008) The Pursuit of Beauty 8 Phil Rogers (2008) A Potter of our Time 9 Lisa Hammond (2009) Unconscious Revelation 10 Ken Matsuzaki New Pots 2009 11 Mike Dodd New Pots 2009
GOLDMARK CERAMICS FILMS 1 2
Phil Rogers A Passion For Pots Ken Matsuzaki Elemental
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