Monday, 5 February 2018

Maker's Lunch - JANE MUIR

This was the first Makers Lunch of the Gallery year and it established a high standard for those to come in our future lunch programme.

        Jane Muir has exhibited with the gallery over the last few years. She has previously brought so much pleasure to our visitors with her sculptures both large and small. They are pieces that  make an immediate impact. It is their anonymity that allows us to identify for ourselves familiar individuals. Subtle colour and seductive surface textures are key elements in her work; immensely appealing but never sentimental. Importantly her work always generates a smile, which should never be underestimated in these times. It has been said that Jane's work offers an uncomplicated and idiosyncratic view of the world.
Jane gave a helpful and insightful introduction to her sculptures. She emphasised that she had always preferred making sculpture rather than other decorative or domestic ware. She enjoys drawing and painting but much of what emerges in clay comes straight to hand. The small male and female figures which she has been making for a long time started life as test pieces for her glazes which are predominantly made by her. They have clearly become a feature of her range of work and she has probably made a few thousand of them , which are spread across the world. Rather incredibly, each one appears to have its own personality!
Jane emphasised the value of discussions of this kind with ceramic enthusiasts generally as well as admirers of her work. Making is a lonely and singular activity and the feedback that comes from such contact  is supportive and helpful in terms of perceptions of her pieces whatever they may be.
She sees herself continuing to make for a long time and although she is currently exploring more abstract work currently she did not see any major shift in style. In any event her name is well established through the response to her figures and their distinctive voice and change could impact on her ability to sell her work – bearing in mind she has made a living from making and selling over a good many years.
Everyone who attended the lunch engaged so easily with Jane and the two hours spent together had considerable mutual benefit I suspect. For my part I am extremely grateful for the effort she made to join us travelling from London.
Stuart Dickens
Ceramic Curator
5 Feb 2018


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The Curator's View February 2018

Here we are again – the first featured maker month of our year following on the Annual Graduate Show. Which according to the considerable feedback we have had this year was much enjoyed by our visitors. The show continues until 30th January so I am not able to advise on the graduate with the most votes or the lucky name drawn from the hat. We will be letting you know as soon as the show closes.
There are three makers featured from  February 3rd  to 28th. Once again, we have tried to ensure that there is a stimulating contrast between the makers.

Sophie Southgate has exhibited at Bevere before and regular visitors will remember her use of vivid contrasting colour which enhances her geometric pots – all made with great skill and meticulous concern for detail and precision. They are very distinctive.

Sarah Jenkins is new to Bevere. We were impressed when we saw her work for the first time at Ceramic Art London in 2017. Her sgraffito decoration is clearly contemporary abstraction, but with an interesting primitive feel. Her monochrome decoration adds to the presence of each of her pieces. We are  confident that Sarah's inspirational work will have the same impact on our visitors as it it did on us.    

Jane Muir is our third featured maker. She has previously brought so much pleasure to our visitors with her amusing sculptures both large and small. They are  pieces that  make an immediate impact. It is their anonymity that allows us to identify for ourselves familiar individuals. Subtle colour and seductive surface textures are key elements in her work; immensely appealing but never sentimental. I am also looking forward to hosting the Makers Lunch on the first Saturday, when Jane will be talking informally about her sculpture and her creative spirit.
Stuart Dickens

Tuesday, 19 December 2017


 The Gallery's Annual Graduate Show which is being held throughout January  2018 is now open  and all the work is on the website  and available to purchase online

 As regular visitors will know, the Gallery is completely emptied and then devoted entirely to our selected exhibitors from the 2017 crop of graduates. This year has been a good one and we have fourteen makers, including a textile artist, who together will make for a stimulating show. Indeed, I know that you will tell us if you don't share our view.

 It has always been one of the popular events of our year. There is an appetite for the new and this is one of the opportunities to see what direction ceramics is currently taking. The list of makers covers a nationwide range of university applied arts departments, including for the first time Limerick, where the Head of Ceramics is Mandy Parslow whose work is featured at Bevere.

We are not saying that these are the best graduates from the last year – that would be an extraordinarily bold and somewhat reckless claim – however these are makers that impressed us on a number of levels – technical skill, originality, quality and visual impact. The latter is important as we know that our view of art and craft is so often shaped by our first contact with the work. Visitors, as always, will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite graduate. The one with the most votes will be represented by us during 2018 and if your name is pulled randomly from the usual large number of voters,  you will get a £100 voucher to spend at Bevere.

I have purposely avoided naming names – they will all be on the website – so as to not show favour to one maker or another. The choice will be entirely yours  - based on what you see in the show. Surfice to say, we are delighted with our short list this year and hope that you will be too.

Stuart Dickens 
Ceramic Curator

Monday, 4 December 2017


Given the popularity of the Maker's Lunches during 2017, it was particularly satisfying to have arranged, by popular demand, a lunch with Tim Andrews  to end the year on a high note. We were most grateful for Tim making the journey from his home near Exeter to be with us.

Tim was apprenticed to David Leach in Devon before attending nearby Dartington Pottery Training Workshop and eventually returning to share Leach’s studio. He is now based in Woodbury. The issue for me is that this early experience was a major contributor to the range of skills that Tim clearly possesses. Once again we see a classic  example of the essential relationship between skills and creativity.

The latest work from Tim represents so much of what we associate with this master potter - quality skills, subtle decorative techniques and such elegant design. Tim talked about a wide range of issues but emphasised from the outset that he saw his and every other maker's work in the historical context of pottery making over several millennia. There was considerable interest in found shards of ancient Roman and Chinese pots which he had gathered over the years.

Tim talked about and responded to a number of questions about his approach to raku firing. It was clearly the physical intervention in the firing process that fascinated him rather than the attenuated wait for extended conventional firing. He talked about the design of his vessels and the need for them to stand well with an evident presence.
Tim emphasised the significance of his early years with David leach and at Dartington. This was the crucial period when he developed the range of skills which he felt were essential to express his creative thinking.

During the lunch a wide range of topics came up including the changes that there had clearly been in the ceramic market over the last decade, the equally significant changes in the teaching infrastructure of ceramics and the limited opportunities for acquiring the range of skills which he had clearly gained in his early years in making professionally.

There was a very positive feel at the end of the lunch with a shared view that the two hours together had provided so much insight into the working ethos of this eminent maker and the wider ceramic sector.

Saturday, 4 November 2017


It was a pleasure to have two highly respected makers joining us for lunch. David and Margaret have been making together for over fifty years and notwithstanding the passage of time they continue to be creative and curious about possibilities.

They spent considerable time with their pots talking about the making process and their inspiration. What emerged very clearly was that their undoubted craft skills were learnt through making significant amounts of domestic ware in their early days,  which meant repetition throwing and precision. It is their combination of skills and creativity that continue to drive their not inconsiderable output.

They are aware that it is increasingly difficult for makers to earn a living as they have done throughout their professional lives. Increased costs, changes in the market and public taste are all impacting on makers.

They related many anecdotes about their experiences here and on the continent where they travelled and sold work when they were young. Interestingly coming to terms with the different cultural status of ceramics in various countries was an issue we talked about at some length.

What clearly drives both of these fine makers is the desire to make – yes, selling is important to pay the bills but making is at the heart of every aspect of their lives together. As Margaret said at one stage – it may be fifty years but we are still learning.

It was a tremendously stimulating experience enjoyed by all of us.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

THE CURATOR'S VIEW November/December 2017

November/December 2017

We have brought together a group of makers to end the Bevere year on a high note. David and Margaret Frith have been making their pots together for over fifty years. Notwithstanding that long time, they continue to enthral with their decorative innovation and their concern never to stand still. There is a freshness of approach and an ability to surprise which remains with them both still and long may they continue. I am also delighted that they will be featured in our Maker's Lunch to be held on 3rd November.

Claire Seneviratne produces raku vessels which have a wide appeal. Her first show here was a great success and her pieces were admired and purchased by many of our visitors. Her smoke-fired pots are first fired in an electric kiln, sometimes she partly glazes them and may add a metallic lustre. Then one at a time they are surrounded with oak sawdust which slowly burns around them in an incinerator. The sawdust creates beautiful markings and subtle shades and colours. 

Tim Andrews is a master raku potter with a reputation for quality and innovative design whose work has been exhibited all over the world. We have always enjoyed having his fine work in the gallery as in many ways he is the definitive raku potter. So many of his pieces have that centrepiece quality which would enhance a table or a windowsill anywhere. 

Another new maker to Bevere is Hilke MacIntyre.  Hilke was born in Germany. She studied architecture at the College for Art and Design in Kiel and worked for various architects until she moved to Scotland in 1995. Since then she has concentrated on printing, painting and ceramics, combining a simplified figurative style with bold shapes, strong colours and abstract patterns. Her work is widely exhibited in galleries throughout Britain and has been selected many times for the annual show at the Royal Scottish Academy. It is her ceramics we will be showing this month and I am sure that her original graphic and sculpted pieces will produce many a smile.

Stuart Dickens

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Maker's Lunch - Barry Stedman

7 OCTOBER 2017

One might be forgiven for thinking that regular meetings with ceramicists would eventually lead to predictable responses and recurring themes. Not so. An enjoyable two hours with Barry Stedman demonstrated once again the different ways in which makers become engaged with ceramics and that the what of their work is  an infinitely variable  aspect compared with the more prosaic issues about how work is produced.

Barry was in his thirties when he began to engage with ceramics after ten years in retail. He had always been into drawing and painting but for him the combination of clay and painting was an irresistible combination. He was a successful student at Harrow – Kyra Cane, our guest last month was one of his tutors. He has been making ever since and his genuinely abstract decoration has become a recognisable voice in ceramics. He also works two days a week with Edmund de Waal supporting the glazing and firing of Edmund's output. Barry's work couldn't be more different and he has tried  - successfully I believe – to maintain his own voice despite working with Edmund since leaving Harrow.

Barry sees his work changing over time. Colour range is more restricted and we are seeing in his latest pieces what looks like a combination of charcoal and marking that is redolent of abstracted landscape.

He was very open about the pressures of professional life as a ceramicist and the need to balance workload with creative energy and avoid over production with perhaps inevitable consequences. What was evident however, was that he had no regrets about his courageous decision to change career for a much more volatile environment. The lunch with Barry was a very good example of how intimate, open conversation can be revealing, insightful and importantly a really enjoyable experience.

Next month we are having David and Margaret Frith joining us for what should be yet another stimulating experience.