Reviews

Tidal Echoes – Mostyn Gallery

Bev Bell-Hughes

 

“I live between Conwy and Llandudno and have the benefit of being near to Snowdonia and the mountains, and the estuary of the Conwy River. I spend a great deal of time on the beach at Deganwy and the Morfa beach. Each day is a journey, experiencing the change in nature, and observing how mother earth presents herself to the world: marks left in the sand by the receding tide, sharp and clear, deep gullies, items thrown up by the tide, battered by storms, seaweed flowing in ribbons, the erosion of surfaces of shells, rocks, driftwood and bone.

 

I work directly into the clay with no pre-conceived ideas of how the work will look. I work in a studio with no electric by choice, using an intuitive process of making, and pinching of the clay. My work is made using flattened coils of clay into which other materials such as sand and clays are added to change the surface texture. The work is pushed and pinched causing craters and holes. The finished work has a strong tactile quality, as does the natural world, however I don’t wish to imitate nature but aspire to echo the process”.

 

The Daily Post interviewed Bev  in a question and answer session. This is posted below.

Terry-Bell Hughes talk and demonstration at Ruthin Craft Centre 25th June 2017.

 

A small but select audience experienced a rare treat when Terry explained his influences and demonstrated how he makes his tea-pots and large plates. Like many influential potters of his generation he trained at Harrow. This course was highly influenced by the thinking of Bernard Leach and emphasised a skill based production of functional pottery. The course encouraged the appreciation of the great diversity of pottery traditions from medieval and country pottery of the UK through to early Chinese wares. He spent some of his time in London visiting the National Gallery and V and A. He was clearly impressed by Tang dynasty grave goods. Earlier studio potters such as Staite Murray and the Martin Brothers also fed into his development. From Harrow he had a studio in a shed at Dennis and Rosemary Wrens Pottery in Surrey. Here he was introduced to a very natural style of gardening and developed his love of sheds. In 1978 he and Bev set their pottery in Llandudno Junction. Another important influence on Terry’s work is Katherine Playdell-Bouvere who was fascinated by the range of glazes that can developed using Ash as a major component. His Ash Glaze work is included in the highly influential book on this subject by Phil Rodgers. Studio pottery took many diverse routes from the 1960’s. A major group of potters were concerned with what gave a pot “life”. This concept was exemplified by the work of Shogi Hamada and the appreciation of simple wares used in the tea ceremony. This focus on pots with strength and life led to potters such as Voulkose producing huge plates with cuts, impressed lumps and holes. Watching Terry make a large plate I was put in mind of this energetic style of work with less concern for refined finishes which can make work very sterile and dead.

                The demonstration revealed the experience that Terry can call on to throw large pieces of clay with absolute confidence. As a beginner at the wheel I was amazed to watch the very soft clay which was being used for throwing start to ripple as a cylinder was raised. For me this would be the start of a fatal collapse of the pot, for Terry a simple use of a rib and the ripples magically disappeared. Throughout the demonstration the level of skill, whether in pulling handles, making spouts or trimming huge plates, was quite daunting. Cutting out elephants and attaching them to the pots was a revelation. The use of very simple tools was also remarkable – simple bits of binding steel strap became excellent trimming tools, an old plastic credit card became an excellent rib. So in conclusion a fascinating talk and demonstration revealing a very humble, but dedicated potter.