April – October 2015
Supported by the William Brake Charitable Trust.
In collaboration with 1882 Ltd.
Originally from West Yorkshire, Amy lives and works in London. She shares a studio with 10 of her former classmates from the Royal College of Art, who collectively transformed a railway arch in East London into a multi-disciplinary art & design studio, known as Manifold.
Amy has worked and exhibited internationally, including a spell as Artist in Residence at Konstfack School, Stockholm, Sweden. She was nominated to represent the UK in ‘New Talent’ at the European Ceramic Context 2014 as well as being selected for the inaugural Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize 2014 for artists who show an exceptional command of ceramics, alongside an awareness of the heritage of ceramic craft.
Amy will be the first Ceramics and Industry Resident at the Museum in collaboration with 1882 Ltd. Based in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent, 1882 Ltd was formed in 2011 by fifth generation Emily Johnson and her father, Christopher continuing the Johnson Brothers’ 134 year legacy in the Potteries, the company name evoking the deep routes of the family heritage. 1882’s mission is to champion and take inventively designed ceramic products to wider audiences whilst employing the manufacturing heritage of North Staffordshire and promoting the British ceramic industry.
Working as a Ceramic Artist i specialise in hand building, enjoying working with form and texture and studying its relation to decoration. Since graduating from the RCA my practice is both fuelled by and symbolic of an important time in Ceramic history, my pieces speak of the highly prestigious Porcelain wares produced at the Royal Sevres Factory in the late 17th and 18th Centuries. Primarily working in clay, I have a romance with my medium, I adore its natural qualities, its memory capabilities, the possibilities it allows.
Fuelling my fascination with the overtly decadent, extravagant and the exuberant, the Objets d’art produced there were so refined and tightly controlled they carried no visible suggestion of their material identity and so lavishly decorated that each detail was left in competition on the surface, striving to attract attention. I enjoy the grandeur, opulence, sense of occasion and status that surrounded the wares in their ‘technical perfection’ but feel the need to comment on their complete absurd and eccentricity, perhaps really only elaborate for their own sakes.
My work aims to bridge the gap between the past and the present, finding a new home in contemporary culture for such objects, a ‘modern decadence’. In contrast, through fresh interpretation, the clay body and its material qualities are both elevated and celebrated, with a truth to materials. Worked in a dynamic and lively expression, textured and stripped back to highlight natural surface richness that has no need for further embellishment, each piece establishes a new dialogue between form and decoration, surface treatments becoming part of the structure. My work references and pays homage to the originals, hinting at the decadent and the extraordinary and giving them a new lease of life.
I am also a keen illustrator; working in an unconventional observational style combined with painterly washes and colour splashes. My drawings seek to animate their original subjects, often used on my ceramic wares to commemorate. I like to explore and establish new dialogues between the two and three dimensional in my practice.
Working with and responding to the Museum’s vast collections, I was continually interested in French Porcelain, the considered technical perfection of pieces, their prestige, wealth and status held within society, nationally and internationally at the time and till the present day. Largely it is the vase that holds my captivation. During my residency I explored how industry can be used to create individual items within small production runs, at a more commercial price point, designed with integrity with a prior knowledge of materials and awareness of history within the field. I also used the opportunity to contribute to the practice of making Ceramics on the whole, raising its profile and supporting British Manufacturing. In a very digital age, I was interested in working to combine traditional hand building techniques with industrial production new and old, designing with a prior knowledge and understanding of material and referencing Ceramic history. With a view to inspiring others to begin making.
The opportunity to spend time based within a museum that houses the greatest and most comprehensive collection of ceramics in the world was a huge opportunity and privilege.