Neil Brownsword on Gillian Lowndes
NB: I know I always determine a good piece by not knowing what to say about it. What can you say about a good piece? [video clip starts] I just think it's a wonderful object. And it's so alien to everything else we've seen. It speaks everything to me about what clay is on a personal level, and what glaze is on a personal level. And just the sense of intuition that's gone into the piece. I'm not sure what the piece is about, but I'm not really bothered about what it's about either. I'm just drawn to the objects, like you'd be drawn to something on a stroll. You know you'd walk down a street or you'd see something in situ and it would capture your imagination for a time. I think it's an influence. I think Gillian Lowndes has been there from way back, just because of the oddness of some of the work. Because there was no-one else doing anything quite like what she was doing. And just how she pushes the boundaries of that medium really. She takes it as far as it goes. [video clip ends]
Looking at this piece in contrast to, say, that Liz Fritsch piece we've just seen, it's the the other extreme isn't it? I can really empathise with it because it's the manner of working I adopt now as a maker. It's not really setting out with an end goal, but it evolves through that process of discovery. And yes, you might get 90% crap, but there'll be that 10% which is spot on. And it' s that marriage of not having, I suppose, you're not in control of something any more. You know [with] most of those things, there's such an element of control that we' ve looked at. You look at those, you know that you can go back to that Staite-Murray piece and the control that' s there. But it's like these pieces have just evolved through a symbiosis of a knowledge of what materials do, and letting the processes determine that final outcome.
There's such a wonderful playfulness about these objects, and the fact that there' s other materials like this metal strip there, isn't there? I think this is glass which is fused into something here. And again the use of wire, which I've kind of plagiarised from from time to time within my pieces. I suppose the history of ceramics has been purely about just being ceramic hasn't it? And this for me has opened it up to a totally different aspect of creativity, incorporating other materials. If something's right for the job, then use it . Don't try and make clay look like metal, let metal do the job you know. I love the fact that there's a half a cup there as well, it makes you think, it makes you curious about it. It makes you want to go back to it and find out what it is, even though you don't really know what it is. What's the title of the piece by the way?
MP: Just ' Cup on Base' .
NB: See, I love the title, it's so straightforward, no bullshit. It's there and it says it as it is, you know. I've never actually met Gillian Lowndes, but I don't know I can imagine her being quite modest about what she does. But again you can look at it from so many different perspectives. It reads as something else, doesn't it? It' s something that you could go back to and rediscover things in. It's going back to what we were saying about display, how makers intend things to be displayed. Just looking at the base of that object again, and these layers of things. It's all Egyptian paste, I take it, or it looks like there's some kind of silicon carbide or Egyptian paste, something that's fluxing. But again, you look at a maker like Gillian Lowndes and the diversity there and the body of work, again it's extreme, isn't it, from what she did in the 1960s, slab built/hand built pieces. And again to the present day, where ceramics is only a small element of what she does, all these other found objects, which again you've got the same kind of resonance as this piece. Yes, thumbs up.