Today Oxfordshire Artweeks invites you to explore simple pleasures through still life and other art. Here we talk to two potters whose simple vessels have a stylish beauty. Oxford potter Tam Frishberg https://www.artweeks.org/galleries/2020/tam-frishberg-ocg describes how growing up in the wilds of Northern California led her to pottery. ‘We camped out under the cypress trees while building first a barn and then a house. I was used to using my hands and getting mucky— creating with clay was a natural step for me. I love being part of the centuries-long human endeavour to fashion vessels to use from elements in the earth. There’s a kind of magic in sitting at the wheel and transforming a lump of clay into a shape I have envisioned and it gives me pleasure to think that my pots will become part of someone’s daily life. Several of the shapes I create have been inspired by ancient vessels seen in museums, particularly the Ashmolean with its collection of vessels from across the world and the centuries. Because line and shape are uppermost in my mind, I tend to decorate in a fairly minimalist style using tranquil, subtle shades often with a hint of landscape. People often comment that there’s an almost Japanese feel of my work— and I think that’s the appreciation of the beauty of a calm simplicity in life.’
Throwing most of her pots on the wheel, and handbuilding larger vases, Headington’s Gilly Whittington works with porcelain, despite its reputation as being tricky because of the way the brilliant white background gives the glazes an extra éclat. ‘I have always wanted my pots to have a feeling of spontaneity and movement, despite being static!’ she chuckles. ‘Inspired by Abstract Expressionist painters, I try to get that wonderful feeling of seemingly-disorganised dynamism into each piece and I love the exuberance of the random brushwork, and the unexpected results when the colours melt and produce a new and unexpected shade. As a contrast I also make contemporary designed mugs, bowls and tableware in porcelain, with plain bright glazes.’
In these extraordinary times, Gilly found herself in lock-down in France and you can tour her French workshop as part of the Artweeks virtual festival.
Above is a video showcasing Nigel Fletcher & Peonies: https://www.artweeks.org/galleries/2020/nigel-fletcher