10.00 to 17.45 daily
10.00 to 22.00 Fridays
NB: I suppose the thing for Coper for me, apart from [an] industrial background, was my introduction to Studio Pottery. I can remember a book; I was doing a qualification at school in Ceramics and one of the tutors gave me this book, I think it was called 'Potters on Pottery'. It had a section on Coper in there. And I suppose even at that time it made some kind of contact with me. I don't know whether it was the presence of the form, but it made some kind of impact, even though I hadn't really got any understanding of what it was about or what it was. But as a visual statement it made an impact. Again, when I was a student at college, you could guarantee that it would always be a Coper rip off, in the degree show at Cardiff. A very good friend that I used to live with was mad on Coper and he'd try and mimic these to the nth degree.
[video clip starts] But the thing I find with Coper, he's a bit like the Henry Moore of the sculpture world, isn't he? You get a bit bored of him. After you've seen one piece you ... I know he was seeking that perfection within that object, but there are better pieces which again I could talk about, the more two-dimensional pieces, those which are constructed cycladic pieces. I think they give me more of a buzz than this particular piece. I love the subtlety of surface on it and how that works with the purity of the form. I could quite happily not pick any kind of fault with that. Just that contrast of interior with exterior. [video clip ends] But as an object in terms of its immediate presence, then I don't think it gives the impact that some of his other pieces give. I mean, there are classic pieces aren't there, classic Coper pieces?
MP: I know Coper wasn't teaching when you were there, but as a student at the Royal College did the legacy of his teaching and his work have an impact?
NB: The strange thing was, you see I was taught by Geoff Swindell ... well I wouldn't say taught, but Alison Britton was there in the department at the RCA. But I always got the feeling that they'd never really say anything positive about him as a maker, it was always about him being a tutor and how he'd brought that sense of individuality out in different people. And I suppose that impacted on them and that generation of teachers is what we emerged from.
I can always remember them not being very complimentary to him, but just saying that he was someone that they could have a good chat to. And I suppose in just saying go ahead and do something, rather than this is the way that something should be, I suppose it inspired a lot of the philosophy of art school today. I think that's [the] relevance he has for me. Not particularly in terms of his objects, but more of that impact and what he's done on that generation of 1970s potters. And I think the awkward thing with a lot of the Copers is they're very two-dimensional, aren't they? They should only be viewed from one particular viewpoint. They're very photogenic from that viewpoint. But you look at them from the side or another angle and they've lost it a bit.
MP: It's interesting, because some people would see them as simply sculptural, and other people would argue that, well, Lucie Rie's house was full of Coper pots full of flowers, being used and being very definitely a functional object.
NB: Yes. You see, I wouldn't tie that element of function in there, I'd just see them as objects, really. I don't know, I really felt [OK] with a bunch of kind of daffodils springing out the top, but OK.
MP: OK. Display is a function, isn't it?
NB: Of course, yes.
MP: Because your work is for display.
MP: It's just sometimes there's an assumption that studio pottery has to have a function.
NB: Well, yes, there's the utilitarian function. I think there's that kind of confusion there, isn't there?