1980. She'd then been working for about five years, hadn't she? I have thought and felt a lot about her work, being almost a colleague; she's slightly a generation ahead of me, but in the same general body of thinking. It so immediately contradicts what you think hand-building is like. You think hand-building is going to be rugged and groggy and clunky and weighty, and this is just so delicate, it's pinched to incredible refinement.
[video clip starts] She's really stretched the palette of colours at high temperature. I mean, this has been fired to 1250 or 1300. She's spent a long time, while at the college, developing a really rich palate of engobes; similar to the engobe that Coper was putting on his surfaces, it's painted on after the biscuit firing.
Colour's really important to her as is pattern, obviously. And there are just so many, I don't know enough about this in a way. I mean, I know that she was fascinated in giving the illusion of a round form by flattening it, so that it's a trick in this envelope of a form that is making us imagine the whole volume of a pot, both in the way the lip has been cut and the way she's done the painting. [video clip ends]
Maths and Music and Philosophy are all things that are very important to her. In other pieces a bit later on she would, I think, have painted the back as well, so I don't know what she means by having a plain back. I'd be interested to know.
Very often, later pieces didn't exist in isolation, they were part of a long line series, and they [interacted] with each other with their different patterns. They were very important at their time. Certainly I think one of the key things for me in my career has been to be one of the curators for the Maker's Eye exhibition in 1981, and she was someone I definitely had to include. It was very much a hot, exciting thing at the time.
For quite a long time thereafter I think her work did settle into a similar pattern. The forms were changing a bit and the colours were changing and there was a period a bit later on, [in the] late 1980s, when the colours became very wonderful reds, [a] very rich Piero della Francesca [type] of palette. But its significance for me at the beginning of my working time is for the play in it, really, for the being straightforwardly a pot, and yet it's got this extraordinary illusion within it. Some people got very upset about them [back] then and said that they were shrinking away from use, and shrinking into being mere mantlepiece things. But to me it was a very exciting step in saying that something could be still life as well as life, to actually have both in it at the same time, and that's what I try to talk about in my little essay in that catalogue.
That was a key theme for her. Very often if I'm showing slides at work [I] will show an image I [have]. It's a photograph of her pots, of a set of them, but it's before they've been finished, so they're just raw. It's a David Cripps picture of a line of raw shapes [and it's] the most beautiful photograph, and that's an object in itself even before she's finished them really. And I quite often show [it] in a slide lecture with an Andrew Lord black cubist set. They had this idea about commenting on function. And yes, there's another place for these objects as well.
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