Your place to explore new perspectives on British art from 1900 to now. Through interviews, films, image galleries and essays, we uncover the creative lives of the people behind the art on our walls.
Clay Conversations: Emily Myers
[ Artist in Focus, Artist Interview )
As a part of our ongoing Clay Conversations series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Myers, the artist behind the exquisite White Vase acquired as part of the Golder-Thompson Gift.
How did you get into ceramics?
I was lucky enough to attend King Alfred School in the late 1970’s, where I fell in love with pottery.
During my first pottery lesson when I was 12, my teacher, Jeannie Hull, complemented me on my evenly rolled coil, and I have not stopped working with clay since.
I learned to throw at this time, but for my pottery O Level, I made a model of Battersea power station (unfortunately the towers warped in the firing).
On my degree show at Bristol School of Art, I watched Wally Keeler demonstrate making his thrown and altered work. This was the beginning of my journey to find my own style. At first, I made derivative pieces, employing Wally’s techniques to make scrap metal exhaust- pipe forms. I used barium matt glazes, instead of his salt glaze finish, and I still do.
Are there other artists who inspire you?
I am inspired by the quiet works of Morandi and like to play with groupings of pots as he does in his paintings. For example, make pairs of bottles that lean together, as if in conversation.
Could you tell us a bit about the techniques and styles you use in your work?
Gradually my work changed over the years. When I left Bristol, I returned to London – my hometown. I was making thrown dishes with extruded rims when I received a Crafts Council grant. I then moved onto lidded pots, which were inspired by circus tents and Islamic sculpture.
In the mid-1990s a move to Hampshire prompted another change in my style. I started to make precise, but organic vessels, based on seed pods, with deep carved lines. I was enjoying altering thrown forms, to move away from ‘the round’. I experimented with faceting and carving and honed my skills. I took the traditional technique of faceting a step further by introducing a curved element. The round carved balls that I made have now become a signature piece for me.
Could you tell us about your work in the Golder Thomson gift?
I showed my work regularly at Contemporary Ceramics in London, Beaux Arts in Bath and The Rabley Gallery near Marlborough. In 2016 Meryl Ainsley from Rabley Gallery asked me to respond to the wood cuts of Japanese printmaker, Nana Shiomi. Although initially I found this daunting, I was pleased with the pots I produced for the joint show called ‘Mirror and Reflect’ in the spring of 2017. The collaboration came full circle when Nana Shiomi incorporated a representation of my pots into two new woodcuts that she produced during lockdown. These were shown at our second joint show at Rabley Gallery in 2021. The red clay angular pots, incised with graphic white lines, were and still are, a satisfying foil to my other work. The two pots now on show at Pallant House Gallery are part of this collection of work. One is a globe pot with an indented white circle and the other has an indented oval.
What are your plans, for the future, what you are currently working on?
I am currently working on mini pots (average size 8cm) which I display in large groups. I think of these as mini townscapes that one can ’walk’ through, enjoying the spaces between the forms.