Barbara Gittings : My Ceramic Journey
August 20, 2021
I came to ceramics late in life, having worked in the fashion industry for about 30 years. I started taking pottery evening classes in 1999 and I was soon obsessed.
In the early 2000’s did a week long smoke-firing course with Jane Perryman which was wonderfully inspiring.
While on the course, we students were encouraged to use her moulds to create pieces which were to be smoke fired. I was obsessed with perfection and symmetry at this time and was terribly disappointed when the bottle I had made from her gourd mould came out leaning and slightly asymmetrical.
I and some of the other students went on a visit to a local picturesque village, and as we walked around we realised that all the houses were leaning. I had an epiphany moment and my work has leaned and embraced asymmetry ever since.
Around this time I also did a short course at the City Lit. While studying one of the library books there, I saw a tiny picture of an ancient Chinese nerikomi bowl. I had always been disappointed after I had glazed my ceramic pieces, so thought this might be a way forward for my work.
I’m drawn to primitive mark making, tribal art, all things geometric. I’m fascinated by how perfect symmetry in patterns in nature is distorted towards asymmetry by random chaotic forces such as erosion, weather, growth and other natural upheavals. This asymmetry informs my work.
My work started out as very small, simple pieces, but as I’ve progressed, the shapes and patterns within the clay have become more complex. I’m always pushing myself to make larger pieces.
I have been a hobby ceramicist since 1999.
However, in 2013, having returned from living in France for 7 years, I decided to push myself to become professional.
A few years ago, I had a workshop in a studio complex where a number of craftsmen were working. I became friends with one of the Guild jewellers and she encouraged me to apply to join the Sussex Guild. I’ve now been a member for around four years.
Like most craftsmen, I have a number of shows and events planned for the coming year.
I will be showing work in the Celebrating Ceramics event at Waterperry Gardens in July, then Art in Clay Windsor.
On the August Bank Holiday weekend I will be exhibiting at Pashley Manor Gardens, and then the Oxford Ceramics show in October.
I also have a joint show with Helen Terry, a textile artist, at Bircham Gallery in Holt, Norfolk from 10th Sept – 6th Oct.
On the 19th Sept I will be demonstrating my nerikomi technique in the garden at the Guild shop as part of Lewes Artwave.