Feeling Blue31 Mar 2020
Collections of blue and white china is a classic combination which originates to ancient trade routes from the east to the west and the fashion for grand dinner services and ornamental ceramics. Clustering one colour can create a dramatic impact and give focus to a room. It doesn't need to be precious; family pieces can be mixed with second hand finds and mixed in with contemporary works - machine or hand made. Having fun is key! My own dresser is a combination of transfer ware, junk, art and gifts. The whole kitchen has a narrative and fable theme, influenced by the period of the house and inspired by several gallery artists whose work I love. You will find subversive work in the kitchen to stop a visitor in their tracks, just when they thought they'd entered granny chic territory. Ceramics and transferware tell a fascinating skewed history of the world. Mostly a fake history surrounded by a garland of flowers. I particularly like willow pattern; I find the variation in the pattern fascinating. There is so much to learn from the everyday objects that surround us! I have included two artists who collect export and transferware as well as looking at the work of Stephen Bird, Paul Scott, Stephen Bowers and Philip Eglin - extraordinary artists whose work is in my own home and who each interpret the world through in very different ways.
The artist Hugh Buchanan has a fine collection of transferware at his home in East Lothian. Pictured is his kitchen table. 'The plates are a mixture of Nanking Chinese export and Spode transfer ware. Nothing very special although the knife is rather gorgeous - part of a Worcester service I think. I collect Chinese export ware specialising in large mugs with replacement tin handles and riveted repairs. Some of the repairs are very ingenious and works of art in their own right.'
Scottish Gallery artists
Stephen Bird was born in The Potteries, trained at Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee and, making his home and a huge international reputation from Sydney, he remains aloof from any artist pigeon-hole. He works with both paint and clay and has also undertaken a number of site-specific sculpture commissions. Bird’s influences and interests include English figure and slipware traditions and paintings and artefacts culled from his extensive travels through India, Asia and Australia. His use of words, collage and found objects as part of the final work, results in powerful multi-dimensional imagery which reflect on the global, transcultural nature of myths and ceramic archetypes.
Paul Scott lives and works in rural Cumbria. He has been a professional artist for over thirty years and is best known for his research into ceramics and print. He creates individual pieces that are exacting and critical, blurring the boundaries between fine art and design. A leading proponent of ceramics and print, he has been instrumental in demonstrating the contemporary creative potential of a combination used in industry for hundreds of years to mass-produce decorative wares and tiles. In 2010, he designed thirty linear metres of the record breaking Hanoi Mosaic Mural in Vietnam. Confected, Borrowed and Blue... an Installation by Paul Scott toured throughout 2015 - 2016 at various locations throughout the UK.
Over the years, my artworks have commemorated and examined a range of issues, from the Foot and Mouth crisis to the impact of energy extraction and production on our environment…Paul Scott, 2016
South Australian ceramic artist Stephen Bowers creates richly decorated ceramics which reflect his interest in aspects of craft traditions, natural history, memory and commentary.
'I am interested in the ability to look back and re contextualise stories, interpret meanings and examine the legacy of traditions. As well as studying the Australian urban landscape I look at its biological and zoological information and explore Australia’s diverse and multiform human culture. I treat ceramics as a blank canvas upon which I can create pictures, working with unusual decorative techniques more often encountered outside of the familiar patch of the potter. A lot of my images arise in spontaneous ways – a sort of improvised stream of unconsciousness and I explore skills and techniques – particularly the traditional ceramic arts and crafts of the Orient and Europe.'
Philip Eglin studied at Staffordshire Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art, London. He was winner of the prestigious Jerwood Prize for Applied Arts in 1996. The Scottish Gallery has exhibited Eglin’s work since the 1980’s. His post-modern aesthetic draws on many sources from popular culture and ceramic history through to high art and from Gothic Madonnas to Abstract Expressionist painters of the 1950s. Frequent use of graffiti elements carry playful references to street culture and his sculptures often incorporate pieces moulded from everyday objects such as coke bottles or throw-away plastic. He works in both the figurative and the abstract, using his forms as a canvas or vehicle for whatever narrative he is exploring. He also creates garnitures or installations of both small scale and larger works.
‘I see myself as continuing a strong ceramic tradition of borrowing ideas, for both form and surface, from examples found in other media. I enjoy being flippant and subversive, making fusions of seemingly disparate historical and contemporary subjects in an attempt to achieve a balance between the high and the lowbrow, the reverent and the irreverent, the sophisticated and the crude.’ - Philip Eglin