Nancy Fuller | Studio Insights

4 July 2024

We welcome ceramicist Nancy Fuller to The Scottish Gallery. Read on to find out more about her studio practice.

Nancy Fuller graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee, with a degree in Fine Art Printmaking and went on to obtain a MA in the History of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. A Mandarin scholarship took her back to Taiwan, her country of birth, and it was there that she discovered the art of wood-firing. To design and build her own wood-kiln in Aberdeenshire, she undertook a year-long training with anagama master Suzuki Shigeji in Shigaraki, Japan. Since then, her wood-firing journey has taken her to Europe, Australia, and the US where she has both undertaken residencies and participated in symposiums.

"In 2007, I returned from a year-long wood-firing training with Suzuki Shigeji, an anagama master in Shigaraki, Japan, to build my own kiln on the croft in Aberdeenshire where I grew up. It’s a special experience to return to a place you have intimately known as a child as an adult. Forever changed by my experience of the Japanese attunement to the seasons, I began noticing subtle changes in nature on a daily basis."

"Paying attention to the small details makes your world all the richer and what resulted was a deepening of my appreciation of the natural world. This not only enabled me to develop a nearness to nature but also to myself, and it is this connection that I hope you will experience when you encounter my work."

"Each hand-built jar is made using thousands of small hand movements which I feel gives a certain closeness to the maker. Partaking in a process which has been used for centuries imbues the work with a timeless quality. The mind and heart space required for making and firing informs the work and becomes the tangible quality which is visible in each piece. Through instilling the pots with a sense of softness and quietude, I wish to create them as holding spaces for contemplation."

"Wood-firing for me is a form of affirmation – you act and the fire responds – acknowledging your existence in the world. The attention required for a firing sharpens your senses and you become increasingly aware of subtle changes in your surroundings, bringing you more in line with your natural state of being. It is like a ceremony – it takes the time that it takes. From the moment that you light the fire, that is your sole focus until the pots are ready and it is time to seal the kiln."

"Perhaps working with the unknown is the thing that holds me to wood-firing – that possibility of continually being surprised by the pots that are forged together with nature. The stakes are high, and much can go wrong, but that one surprise inside the kiln is like hidden treasure than keeps you reaching for the next discovery."

"Finally, with the firing process lasting four days, it can only be done through community and involves these rare moments spent by the kiln where friendships are made and stories are told that perhaps would not be told otherwise. Bound together by fire it is a space for connection and the work from each firing inherently talks of place, time and people."

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