‘Nigel’s slip-decorated wood-fired earthenware has earned him international recognition. His thrown and altered pots combine bold contemporary shapes, with his unique style of decoration and strong sense of function.’
It’s thirty years since I left Cornwall College and started my career as a potter. The pots I’ve made for this exhibition will be an accumulation of my ideas and working practice over the years. I have always seen myself as a potter who makes pots for people to use in their daily life.
Since my days as a student in Cornwall I’ve had a longstanding interest in Earthenware, from the majestic thrown and slipped chargers of Thomas Toft, to the soft warmth of Southern European cookware. Although rooted in English traditions I believe in making pots that have relevance to our lives today.
All my pots are a combination of thrown and hand-built techniques; pots are thrown on a kick wheel, with a slow rotation adding a quality of soft movement, hand-built pieces are formed by beating out clay on a large concrete slab. Pots are cut and re-formed into ovals and squares, these are dipped in a white clay slip, dried, and then coated with green, amber and clear glazes, which produce a flat surface on which the blue oxides are painted, with new and old brushes, fingers, and odd bits of sponge, string and grass. Lines and motifs are often scratched through the blue, adding another narrative to the image.
My interest in the work of abstract painters, particularly Roger Hilton, Terry Frost, Patrick Heron and other artists from the Cornish peninsula, has influenced the decorative marks I make. My work is approached not as a painter, but as a potter.
My pots are fired in a large woodfired kiln which is fuelled with softwood off-cuts, this method of firing is labour intensive with long hours stoking the hot kiln, but the soft subtle effects it gives my work makes the pieces unique.
I established my first workshop in Bristol in 1987, this lasted until 1990 when I moved to the Forest of Dean, where I currently live and work.
Nigel’s work is held in many public and private collections. He has exhibited widely in England, Europe and Australia and was elected a fellow of the Craft Potters Association in 1990.
He was elected to the council of the CPA in 2013