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.