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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Neil MacDonell and Sally MacDonell






"Sally makes the female figures. Those made since November 2005 are glazed and coloured with underglaze colour (stoneware).
Neil creates the masks, faces windows, suns, hearts and double faced forms. All his work is wall hanging unless stated otherwise. He uses cobalt, copper and iron oxides under/over glaze (stoneware)."



















Neil MacDonell
Professional member of The Craft Potters Association
Born in Southwark, London. My Father was an architect and my two sisters and I had a lot of exposure to the arts and crafts, particularly old buildings! I remember becoming aware of the creative effects of fire when a neighbours wooden garage containing an ancient ash framed van caught fire. When extinguished there stood a fascinating labyrinth of standing charcoal. When I first started working with clay at college it was the transformation of materials during firing that held me in thrall - it still does. As an art teacher I began working with clay in the classroom. The necessity of devising modelling and handbuilding projects, and the uninhibited and energetic originality shown by my pupils opened my eyes to the potential of the material as an expressive and figurative medium. After 4 years I returned to college to work with clay as my main subject for a Bachelor of Education degree. The incidental commercial success of my degree show paid for my first kiln and I worked hard over weekends and evenings to develop what I had started. I also remained committed to my teaching career, becoming specialist ceramics teacher, head of department and occasional college lecturer. My confidence in my own work grew and I have been a full time ceramicist since 1992.
INSPIRATION
As a 6 year old visiting the Egyptian rooms in the British Museum I was overwhelmed by the textures, patterns and sinister esoteric nature of the mummified remains. I remain interested in disguise and concealment as expressed in primitive cultures and the way that the damage found in archaeological artefacts speaks of their history. My fascination with the human face has made it an obvious choice as a focus for my ideas, though I am conscious of how difficult it is to avoid clichés and pastiche. Yet it is the ubiquity of images of the face throughout the history of humankind that draws me to them.
PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES
8 Pieces of work in public collections in UK and Spain.
Work represented in private collections in Australia, Europe, Japan, Taiwan, and USA.
Lectures and workshops given to:
The Northern Potters Association, Scottish Potters Association, Southern Potters Association, Kent Potters and the Wye Potters.
1991 Received British Council Award for teaching to work in America.
Travelled 10,000 miles around USA visiting teaching centres, meeting artists/gallery owners and selling work.
























Sally MacDonell
Professional member of The Craft Potters Association
I am continually fascinated by people. I'm a great observer of people and thrive on interaction with others. I explore the human condition by modelling the female form from clay; changing the mood and feeling of a piece by the positioning of a shoulder or hand.
“In a world where so much energy is put into noticing the differences between people, I look for the feelings, desires, mannerisms we all share, elevating the ordinary into something special. We are all so curious.”
SMOKE FIRINGS
Sunday afternoons in Boston, Lincolnshire were often spent in the garden with my Dad. As a child I took delight in poking sticks into the ritual bonfire of a weekend. Little did I appreciate as an adult I'd have bonfires for a living! My smoke firings are fast and have a lot of flames, really more flames than smoke. I use wood shavings and newspaper and the firing lasts around 10 minutes. Hot blackened figures are precariously lifted out of the flames and left to sizzle on the grass. When cool the figures are cleaned and waxed. It's a wonderfully exciting and smelly process. A frozen moment of fire captured in the surface patina of the figures.
GLAZING
Having smoke fired for 12 years; I have recently rediscover glazes. Prompted into action by a desire to create large scale outdoor pieces, I'm developing a range of work using underglaze colours mixed with engobe and fired to 1260'. I'm drawn to the colours found in the Greek terracottas from the second century BC. Surfaces that show experience, having been eroded and fragmented. When I apply the glaze it's very much like painting. It's a very spontaneous process which fits with the way I hand build.
PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES
2004 Commissioned for P&O Cruises to make three sculptures for its new ship Arcadia.
Lectures and workshops given to Midland Potters, Northern
Potters and Southern Potters Association and the Scottish
Potter's Kindrogen Camp.
1998 nominated for an Arts Foundation Fellowship.
1996 Crafts council Setting Up Grant Recipient.
Self-funded an expedition traveling 10,000 miles around America, visiting teaching centers and universities, meeting artist/gallery owners.

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