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Ruthin Craft Centre visit

Today our MA course went on an excursion to North Wales. It was a day packed full of pottery. Great!

We started off with having a look around the Ruthin Craft Centre, which hosted exhibitions of two artists along with mixed craft exhibition.

For me, the pottery exhibition “The Language of Clay: Earth, Fire and Salt” by Micki Schloessingk was the most interesting. Her pots are mostly utilitarian and rather simple in form. The simple shapes show off the beautiful salt glazes she uses on many of them. By far my favourite were her ginger jars, in particular the ones with the bluish salt glaze and their domed handle-less lids. However, I also liked the decorated flat plates and how the glaze has been applied with broad gestural brushstrokes. I have not seen this sort of decoration using this very warm pallet of colours.

The other exhibition, “Confluence/Konfluenz”, was by the German blacksmith Simone ten Hompel. I was not always so taken by the cold silver metals she uses on most pieces but loved the warm copper tones on others. Interesting, from a potters point of vies, were the individual shapes of her vessels and the way she grouped and presented her work.

The third exhibition “Making in Colour” was a colourful, as the name already suggests, display of different crafts. The quality was very high throughout even though not everything was to my taste. The four ceramic artist that were displayed were:

Kate Haywood’s porcelain and cotton pieces are intriguing with not explanation of what they are except that they are suggestive of some sort of function. However, I don’t think they would work individually but need to be displayed as group as done here.

A group of tall vases by Christopher Taylor, which are decorated with slips, glazes, decals and lustres are interesting as they show densely decorated surfaces. Even though I am interested in this sort of additive decorating technique these vases don’t really appeal to me. I think it is a personal matter of taste. I am not keen on the bright colours and glossiness of the glazes in combination with terracotta clay.

Yuta Segawa’s display is of nearly one hundred thrown miniature pots. They are really beautiful as a collection and would entice a buyer to purchase a group. However, the display in the glass cabinet may be necessary to prevent theft or damage but I find it puts an emotional barrier between the viewer and the pots. Pots need to be felt or handled to be fully appreciated.

Adam Frew’s pots are very restrained within this exhibition. He sticks to white, dark blue and pale green decorations. I really liked these with their quiet beauty. I think they could have benefitted from being seen at eye level.

Of course, Ruthin Craft Centre also has a gift shop, which has a good selection of crafts for sale.

The two potters that stood out for me were Nancy Baldwin’s matt vases decorated with figures and Peter Wills’ bowls, which are very reminiscent of Lucy Rie.

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