'Having long been a fan of Winifred Nicholson’s beautiful paintings, I was delighted to be invited by Nottingham Lakeside Arts to send a selection of my ceramics to show in the gift shop and café areas of the Djanogly gallery alongside the major exhibition, ‘Liberation of Colour’.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to make some new experimental work based on some of the ceramics featured in Nicholson’s flower paintings. I liked the idea of the backwards and forwards nature of turning a painted representation of ceramics back into actual ceramics, but trying really hard to make a ceramic version of a painting, not a copy of the original ceramic item itself.
I picked three paintings featuring jugs: ‘Easter Monday’, ‘Flower Piece’ and ‘Flowers in a Pot with Orange Spots’. Nicholson’s brushmarks demonstrate a spontaneity and liveliness which I often find rather sadly lacking in my own work, which is very tightly controlled and detailed. In making ceramic versions of the three jugs in the paintings I’d picked, I was forced to make work that was much more loose and free than my normal style. I found this a very enjoyable and interesting experience!
One of the jugs was particularly interesting to make as it was faceted and this was a technique that was entirely new to me. I found the slightly amateurish and wonky results in my version very pleasing. I was concerned to be as faithful as I could to the original paintings in my ceramic versions, so I closely studied the way Nicholson had used colours to represent light and shade, and the way she used a single brush stroke to depict the surface patterns of the ceramics in oil paint.
It was quite difficult to reproduce these brush strokes in my decorative medium of coloured slip, which behaves very differently from oil paint. What would have taken Nicholson a mere few seconds to depict a wavy blue line pattern on a white jug took me long minutes of very careful colour mixing and painting, as I had to mix several different intensities of blue to describe the darker blue edge of a mid-blue oil paint line.
I’m not sure if my experiment will help me to ‘loosen up’ in the long run, but I did so enjoy making this work, and I would love to do more work like this in the future'.
Katrin Moye 20.03.17