Hard work may be it’s own reward, but a little appreciation never hurt. The Cré exhibition, which launched Friday, 15 July in the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny, showcases the work of the graduates of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s two-year Ceramics course. We meet the ones to watch.
Originally from Poland, Marta Ozog moved to Ireland to learn English and study Art and Sculpture. Ceramics was a natural progression.
“I have a passion and curiosity about clay as a material and I am excited by its endless possibilities. I like the idea of making something that people can appreciate and use in everyday life.”
“My work is inspired by nature, landscape. I use my tableware as a canvas for expressing my ideas. Freedom and movement are very important to me. They are represented by flying swallows, a symbol of joy, and by spontaneous sweeping brush strokes.”
Marta’s next move takes her to a collective studio producing functional and sculptural pieces. “I have recently joined the Blue Door Studio in Dublin and I am looking forward to developing my work. It is a very exciting time for me.”
Creativity runs through the core of Babs Belshaw, whose work includes textiles and painting before specialising in ceramics.
“Not being very academic at school lead me to study art, and then to work with clay. My Cré pieces were inspired by water and ice formations. Growing up near the coast, my colour palette is reflective of the rich blues of the sea and sky.
Babs uses crystal glaze to create spontaneous patterns on the surface of her pieces. “Porcelain is my clay of choice for its pure whiteness on which my zinc crystalline glazes grow. I use blends of copper and cobalt oxide for their rich greens and blues.” Next stop is to set up her own pottery studio in Wicklow. Watch this space.
A short ceramics course was enough to get Aisling McElwain hooked, leaving behind a career as a Geographical Information Systems technician.
“I love the tactile nature of clay. There is so much to learn, from throwing techniques to glaze theory and everything in between. I could work at it for 100 years and not know everything.”
For the graduate show, Aisling created a range of stunning bowls with a celadon glaze embellished with 19 carat gold lustre banding along the rim.
Aisling’s immediate focus is to hone her craft. “I would like to spend a couple of years working as a thrower for another potter as I prefer working with others.”
Making pots was the antidote to Andrew Ilsley’s uninspiring work life. He decided to commit to the clay and train to be a full-time potter.
“It has everything in it; all of the elements, stillness and motion, making form out of a lump of mud. There is something completely magical and honest about it for me, it’s a brilliant teacher.”
Andrew created a collection of stoneware teapots and pebble-boxes for the Cré exhibition. “I have always loved the colours, forms and textures of the shingle and pebbles of the Irish west coast and they repeatedly appear in my work. My boxes are made to fit the hand, to be held and discovered. Glassy crackle glazed interiors, matt slips and satin surfaces excite the hand and eye alike.”
This autumn, Andrew’s work will appear in the window of Kilkenny shop on Nassau Street in Dublin.
After graduating with a degree in Geography and History, it wasn’t long before Kate McGuane’s artistic leanings rose to the surface.
“Ceramics was the first medium that I truly felt passionate about. Clay is so beautiful and interesting to work with but above all else it’s the experience of working with the material and endless possibilities of things to create that keep me enthused.”
Her beautiful bowls are inspired by the West Cork coastline.”I wanted to recreate some of the shapes and colours that I came across, the soft tactile qualities of eroded pebbles and the bright colours of washed up debris.”
The future sees Kate working as a studio assistant in Crafty Hands Pottery Studio, Midlteon and with help from the DCCOIm is very positive about her next steps. “I won a Materials Support from the Future Makers Awards this year so that will help jumpstart the designing and making process. As a maker, it is an exciting time for ceramics.”
The Cré exhibition will run from July 15-August 1 at the National Craft Galley, Kilkenny