Hand made animal ceramic sculpture

By: Jon Barrett Danes  26/01/2009
Keywords: exhibitions, Horses, ceramics

 Ceramics has been a family tradition spanning four generations at least. The earliest records show a pottery at Hoo in Kent in 1834. Each generation has produced their own particular style of work. My father, Alan, was the first to break with tradition by leaving the family pottery and undertaking a formal college training and entering the pottery industry as a designer. I followed a similar path and completed my degree in ceramics at Bristol Polytechnic in 1985. I mainly concentrating on thrownware and glaze development. The mainstay of my inspiration was derived from the pages of the Wedgwood Creamware catalogues from the late 19th century. Coupled with this very classical approach, I found that the humorous fluidity of cartoon drawings provided a happy contrast. I also spent a considerable amount of time kiln building and experimenting with wood fired saltgaze, as I felt at the time that this was the ultimate kiln firing experience and I loved it. I used these glazes to good effect on the teapot forms that became an obsession for many years. After leaving College, I worked at Hereford Art College as a Technician in the 3D studies area for just under a year. Then, an opportunity presented itself through my brother in London working for Thorn E.M.I Computer software. In their training department I worked with graphic software, producing manuals and being general Mr fix it, I stuck this out for almost four years and became quite settled and even bought a flat. Then a good friend of mind asked me if I wanted to go travelling one day, and I said yes, and sold the flat and travelled for about 18 months. When I got back, I went through a number of jobs doing all sorts in London and during this time all I really wanted to do was make pots again. I kept in contact with a college friend, Rick Landy (www.wedgeofstilton.com) who took me in and provided me with a little space to make pots and a bed. So I worked as a landscape gardener during the day to pay the bills, and a potter by night. This became quite exhausting, and so my mother presented me with some forms for a Teaching course. After completing this, I managed to land a job at a rather good private school in Portsmouth where I stayed for 14 years. Although my primary interest was the wheel thrown object I soon realised that a lot of people simply don’t know how long it can take to make a teapot, for instance, and I began to think that if I was going to carve a living out of this I was going to have to make something else. I suppose, looking back, I must have drawn from the work of my parents Alan and Ruth Barrett-Danes. I started with a pig, and to be honest it came quite naturally to me and since then I have been concentrating on developing handbuilt animal forms and other more sculptural pieces. My animal forms still embody the same concern for form and profile that sustained me in the search for the ideal teapot, and I feel that I have been able to transfer many of the elements that excited me in that development. This has endowed the work with a strength and humour. In the last couple of years, I have become very involved with the idea of memories. I often feel people, myself included, are too busy or moving so fast from one thing to the next that they don’t reflect on what has passed them by; they don’t consolidate. I have been developing a new branch of my work to encapsulate this idea on a bespoke basis.  Examples of the outcomes will appear on the website as they happen. If you wish to come and see me and my workshop, or buy direct, please give me a ring.

Keywords: ceramics, exhibitions, Horses, Pigs, Pottery, sculpture, sheep