Review: CLAYmakers at Kobi and Teal, Frome.

Kobi and Teal, Frome.

Kobi and Teal, Frome.

We are in the final days of Somerset Art Weeks (SAW) 2019; until the 6th October the festival is active across 135 venues in the county. From a tithe barn, to a disused quarry, to manor houses and galleries, the eclectic mix and sheer number of venues makes this no small event.

About the festival, Patron Derek McCloud enthuses “[SAW] plays an invaluable role in championing and celebrating a great range of work […] I urge you to get out, visit the artists and their exhibitions and enjoy these glorious 16 days of cultural exploration”.

Following McCloud’s lead, I visited the CLAYmakers exhibition at Kobi and Teal, Frome. The space is a treasure trove, and visitors will find themselves surrounded by works on every wall and surface.

The exhibition features a collection of ceramics that challenge the line between functionality and aesthetics. Looking closer at the pieces in the flesh and the portfolios of the artists online, it is apparent that these artworks truly are made by ‘some of the UK’s most notable makers’, and would comfortably ‘hold their own’ in wide, open spaced galleries, on tall plinths, with plenty of space to ‘breathe’.

Patricia Volk, ‘Embrace’.

Patricia Volk, ‘Embrace’.

Beautiful abstract sculptures such as Patricia Volk’s ‘Embrace’ are exhibited side by side with Yuta Segawa’s functional (yet charming) glazed porcelain mugs. Do not be deceived by the traditional colour and form of the latter pieces; Segawa’s oeuvre is indisputably radical, with revolutionary techniques such as foot and mouth throwing (see here) rupturing expectations of accepted corporeal engagement with clay, actively re-imaging how human and clay bodies fit. Volk too is an avant-garde artist; her work explores the relationship between ‘strength and fragility’ between ‘stability and precariousness’ (see here).

Yuta Segawa Tumblers and mugs, glazed porcelain.

Yuta Segawa Tumblers and mugs, glazed porcelain.

Jo Taylor’s ‘ensemble’ pieces featuring stand and pot also require a special mention; the grogged and thrown porcelain pieces seem to epitomise contemporary makers desire to create work that pushes beyond functionality. The pier-like structures of the stands reflects Taylor’s interest in the relationship between artistry and architecture, she describes how the structures emerge through ‘drawing in three dimensions’.

Jo Taylor, ‘Ensemble’ series.

Jo Taylor, ‘Ensemble’ series.

Kobi and Teal is well worth a visit, many of the beautiful things on show are highly desirable; what is particularly exciting about the CLAYmakers exhibition is that many of these hand-made pieces are created by artists who are actively redefining a millennia-old craft.

Notes;

About the exhibition:

CLAYmakers features the work of 18 artists, designers and makers. Exhibitors include: Lily Pearmain, Frances Preist, Natashca Madeiski, Annette Lindeberg, Amanda Sue Rope, Alison Milner, Arjan Van Dal, Emma Lacey, Reiko Kaneko, Tim Lake, Tina Vlassopulos, Lisa Ommanney, Sarah Hall, Lydia Hardwick.

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Eloise Govier