Sue Blatherwick - 38b

Location: Buxton / Genre: Ceramics

Artist Statement

I make slip-decorated earthenware tiles and dishes using traditional techniques with contemporary colours. These are inspired by natural forms and patterns, and designs on artefacts from items gathered from around the world. 

As I travel I notice patterns in nature, the shapes of leaves fluttering in the wind, the colours of the sky, the setting sun, the change of light in the clouds, the shapes of the fields and the hills of the Peak District, the lines in the Lincolnshire landscape, the colours in textiles from the Ashante to Rajastan, the designs on a pack of ancient Japanese 'Hanfuda’ playing cards. These things give me pleasure. I try to capture these in an abstract way, the contrasts depicted in big sweeps of coloured slip with fine lines drawn or scratched, the wiggling lines of reflected light on water, shimmering in the breeze, the hanging leaves from a willow or silver birch. Or the rain falling, in different shapes and angles, horizontal, diagonal, in small drops or big splashes. I watch the birds in the trees, flitting from branch to branch, and listen to their song, watch the insects in the long grass, the dragon flies hovering over a pond, or the ladybirds and spiders that find themselves in my house. Sometimes it seems that appreciation of beauty, colour, form and shape, is under threat. Shape, colour and form linked to the environment, take on a different meaning in art; they have been unfashionable concepts within academic practice. In my work I integrate the conceptual, it is inherent in the creation and decoration, you just have to look hard to find meaning. Fronds, leaves, flowers, footprints. The beauty of this wildlife is under threat.

I use clay as a canvas, making marks which are both controlled and spontaneous. I work in terracotta and like the colour of the clay when it is high fired and contrasts with the coloured slips. Forms are slab-rolled, moulded or thrown. Many pieces are one-off individually considered and time consuming to create. I make some domestic ware, beakers, plates, bowls, dishes. And tiles. These can be commissioned; tiles work well in kitchens and bathrooms. Or you could re-tile an old table top. 

I was born into ceramics as my father was a potter who had worked for Leach and Cardew during the Second World War; his life and our family home were strongly influenced by their philosophies. I studied in Cambridge, taught in schools in London, worked in educational development. I later studied Fine Art and Critical Studies at Central St Martins School of Art, using photography, film and found materials to create installations. Later still I refreshed my ceramics knowledge with a Professional Practice programme at Derby University. I undertook research for an M.Phil at Manchester Metropolitan University, documenting my father’s ceramic practice. I have worked across disciplines, using found materials, photography, painting, textiles.

I hope my work has a positive energy and that those who purchase a piece take this home with them.


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