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The craft&design Selected Awards 2014 - Specialist Judges

craft&design Selected Awards

Helen Walsh
Helen Walsh
Ceramics Category

Helen Walsh
www.yorkartgallery.org.uk

“Though I find it hard to believe myself, I’ve been curator in charge of York Museums Trust’s ceramics collections for almost ten years now. Something about the pots in the collection grabbed my attention and I’ve been transfixed ever since. The work, the makers and the collectors are endlessly fascinating to me.

“My first task was to catalogue the WA Ismay collection of post-war British studio ceramics, which took five years and involved lots of washing-up! It was however an invaluable introduction to British studio ceramics. WA Ismay was the UK’s most prolific collector of studio ceramics; his collection contains 3,600 pots by over 500 potters and is supported by a vast archive. His commitment to his collection and to the potters he chose to support is inspirational and I have been doing doctoral research on him since 2008.

“I’m currently working on the development of the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) which is part of the major £8million capital redevelopment of York Art Gallery, opening in Spring 2015. In 2012 I set up the Contemporary Studio Ceramics Subject Specialist Network, which is a forum for curators, academics and artists interested in studio ceramics. I am Vice-Chair of the Northern Potters Association and am also a judge for the Henry Rothschild Bursary which was launched in 2014.

Clay is incredibly versatile and I’m always on the lookout for work which shows imagination and creativity but remains true to the material, work that captures the spirit of the maker.”

Judge’s Statement

Judge's overview:
I was thrilled to be asked to judge the craft&design Selected Awards Ceramics Category. At the start of the process I looked through the potters taking part and was heartened by the variety of high quality work being produced in the UK by potters from a wide range of backgrounds. I was also somewhat relieved that I would only have to select from six finalists rather than all of them. The standard of the six finalists was very high and the decision difficult. I decided to approach judging without any preconceived ideas or criteria of what I was looking for and ultimately my decisions are based on experience gained through working with the ceramics collections at York Museums Trust and (rather self indulgently) my own personal taste.

Gold: Hannah McAndrew
As the Gold Award Winner with the highest number of votes overall in the online public vote, Hannah is also our
craft&design Selected Maker of the Year 2014

Judge's statement: Hannah McAndrew makes the kind of pots that give me warm glow inside, they are pots I can imagine using myself with great enjoyment everyday. Her work retains a very strong connection to the historical slipwares seen in museum collections, strong forms with balanced decoration that make the most of the natural characteristics of clay and glazes. The decoration has a refined sophistication that gives her pots a contemporary edge. I especially like the pieces that combine very loose, gestural brushwork with precise trailed and incised detailing. Hannah's website and blog offer an enlightening and valuable insight into her sources of inspiration. Her skill as a potter goes from strength to strength and I hope that the pleasure and joy she clearly finds in making her work continues. I look forward to seeing were her interests in ceramics take her and her work in the future.

Silver: Alex McCarthy
Judge's statement: Alex McCarthy's work struck me as a fascinating mix of archaeology with luxurious touches of bling. There is something very intriguing about the decoration of his pieces, the combination of texture and surface patina that looks so fragile yet entices you to touch it. I think his work would benefit from time spent in contemplation, watching how pieces react to changes in light. I was impressed by the complexity of processes, the dedication, skill and time involved in their production and will be interested to see how Alex intends to develop his work in the future.

Silver: Angela Mellor
Judge's statement: I enjoyed exploring Angela Mellor's research on bone china and seeing the results of her experimentation with light and clay. I found the series of work she has completed all very suggestive of the natural phenomena they were inspired by. I particularly liked the Glacial Light and Cretaceous Light series, which show her skilful handling of materials and processes. I also liked Angela's range of Japanache tableware, which I found very evocative of Japan and the way in which crockery acts as a canvas for the presentation of food. I look forward to seeing how she develops her lighting work.

Finalists:

Penny Withers
Michelle Lowe
Stephen Green

Judge's statement: As a curator working with historical and contemporary collections, the shortlist was proof that the ceramics tradition in the UK continues to flourish, with new and exciting responses to techniques and materials. The range of work exhibited by the finalists highlights the skill, dedication and passion they have for the material. I was also impressed by the commitment to sharing their practice, knowledge and experience through the individual websites and their activities. All the finalists should feel very proud to have been shortlisted and I hope the experience has been an enjoyable and positive one.

 
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