In his personal exploration of this traditional pottery technique, 45 yo David Roberts has transformed it into a vibrant and contemporary art form. As a distinguished English potter, he has developed an international reputation as a leading practitioner in the art of Raku ceramics. Roberts is acknowledged as responsible for the introduction and promotion of modern, large scale Raku in Europe. He has also been instrumental in its re-introduction to the United States of America, where his example has played a key role in the foundation of the ‘Naked Raku’ movement.
From David’s Artist Insight :
” My ceramics are concerned with making the hollow vessel form which acts as a vehicle to bring to expression my ideas and feelings as an artist and human being.
Although I enjoy and admire the work of many potters making functional wares, I am not concerned, in my own work, with usefulness. I am, however, very committed to making vessels as they give focus, direction and context to my ceramics.”
“There is also a fascination with the potential for a simple pot form to hold, carry and imply layers of meanings and references. The formal language of my work reflects the influence of hand built ceramics from different periods and cultures, for example storage jars of West Africa or ritual vessels from Pre-Columbian America.”
‘ Landscape, art and nature, is the world that my ceramics refers to and are influenced by. The natural world is reflected on a micro and macro level. In some of my recent work, often in the same piece, I seek equivalents which resonate and echo with the eroded, geological quality of water worn pebbles and rocks together with the contours and traverses of dry stone walls cutting across the Pennine hills above my studio.’
“Since the mid 1970s I have intentionally focused on making large, coil built and Raku fired vessels. I love this way of making as it gives me rounded, volumetric forms which serve as a wonderful three dimensional canvas upon which surface incident derived from the Raku firing can play. The sense of volume and presence that a piece emits when worked over along time period is important to me. To intensify this tactile and timeworn quality, pieces are often ground and polished after firing.”
” Landscape and nature gives direction and orientation to my work. The linear patterns on the vessel’s surface can be simultaneously a reference to rock strata and an abstract means of exploring and articulating the complex interweaving of parabolic curves that make up the form of a coil built vessel. There is an equivalence between the way that a path or trail moves across the local hills and a tangential line exploring and defining the form of a pot. In doing this I am trying to imbue my work with the same sense of presence and spirituality I get from walking in my local hills. Similarly smoke lines can evoke botanical structure and growth pattern.”
“I use the Raku process as it gives me a consistent and controllable tool in the orchestration of the strength, quality and pattern of carbonisation. The surfaces are not merely covering the form but penetrate deep into the wall of clay resulting in a fusion of form and surface.
At present I am not concerned with colour but with the way richness of tonal variation enhances and defines form. These surfaces are derived from two phenomena; the control of crackle patterns and spotting; resulting from the chemical and physical changes to materials that occur during the rapid firing and cooling of the Raku process, and the linear markings resulting from my application of layers of slip and glaze. These marks both refer inwards to the vessel as a record of the energy of the process to which it has been subjected and outwards as a sign or indicator towards the landscape.’
Notes on David’s technique :
All the work is coil built and Raku fired. Prior to firing, some surfaces are burnished using various levigated slips. Biscuit firing is between 1000C & 1100C. The Raku firing is between 850C & 950C and is completed by a prolonged smoking and cooling process. Finally the pots are cleaned and where applicable sealed with a natural wax.
Tall Vessels With Lines
An extract from Ceramics Monthly:
” Yet he has created a personal and recognizable style, combining somewhat contradictory features – an organic technique (coiling) to achieve classical and symmetrical forms; a firing process, traditionally inimical toward large pots, to produce ware with an exactly finished glaze. Art school teachers, certainly those of a less adventurous age, would have told him, had he been their student, not to do it because it would not work. But he has done it, and it does. ”
David Roberts also conducts Masterclasses……..more info…http://www.davidroberts-ceramics.com