Craft NI are delighted to announce their upcoming exhibition ‘Peter Meanley: New Works’. This solo show will feature new works by the renowned salt glaze potter Peter Meanley, which he has developed over the last three years.
Peter Meanley has won international acclaim for his abstract spouted pouring vessels and his mastery of the salt glazing technique. Formerly Head of Ceramics at the University of Ulster in Belfast, Peter has been awarded a PhD for researching salt glazing in 1999 - a process which involves throwing salt into a kiln, whilst it is fired at high temperature, resulting in a characteristic ‘orange-peel’ pitted surface.
Peter’s work initially consisted of strikingly engineered teapots and other functional forms. In time, his focus and never tiring curiosity for the world around him and its possibilities led him to make new forms that can ‘contain liquid’ and can be used to pour from. His fascination with these new forms and his continuous exploration of the salt-fired process yielded the compelling spouted pouring vessels which form the core of this exhibition.
Peter describes himself as a potter but drawing and sculpting are also fundamental to his practice. Some of his sketchbooks are on display in the exhibition and give the viewer great insight into his daily practice and his constant interest in the world around him. His wide use of processes alludes to a preoccupation with the final piece and its artistic and functional integrity. The wheel, plaster, building, cutting, joining and extruding are all used: in Peter’s own words, vessels come into being ‘by manipulating different parts to create forms which look as tough they belong. They must have integrity, a right to exist.’
Apart from his spouted pouring vessels, the exhibition will show Peter’s puzzle jugs. A technically complex piece, the puzzle jug has a perforated collar, making it impossible to pour from, unless the drinker knows there is a hole, or number of holes which they must cover with their fingers, to allow the liquid to flow without spilling. The puzzle jugs were Peter’s lockdown project which he found inspiration for in the early medieval puzzle jugs which served not so much as a drinking tool but as a drinking game (a well-known example of this puzzle jugs is the Exeter Jug, which dates back to 1300 AD). A keen collector of historic ceramics and other beautiful objects, Peter waited almost 50 years for this idea to materialize: a broken jug he acquired in 1969 was the exact piece that inspired him to start this project in 2019.
Peter’s enthusiasm for the world around him is infectious; his ideas continue ‘to stare him in the face’. Impressions, whether they’re an artifact in the National Museum of Crete, a lily flower, a broken jug from his private collection, a handsaw, a French antique dealer he meets abroad - they all spark ideas and put in motion a fascinating chain of processes: drawing, experimenting, changing positions, sculpting, throwing at the wheel. Seeing the world materialize through Peter Meanley’s eyes is a privilege which challenges one’s perception of ceramics.
The following events are scheduled throughout the exhibition, please check https://craftni.org/events/ for full details:
Exhibition opening night and Peter Meanley talk
Venue: Craft NI Gallery
Date: 5 May at 6pm
For the opening night of the exhibition, Peter will give a talk on Puzzle jugs and his spouted pouring vessels. Craft NI Gallery will be open until 8pm, part of Late Night Art.
This event is sponsored by Boundary Brewery, who have kindly provided locally-brewed craft beer for the occasion.
Peter Meanley: Reflections
Venue: Ulster Museum, Lecture Theatre
Date: 26th May at 12pm
Throughout this talk, Peter will reflect on 50 years as a maker and why he turned to salt glazing. Peter will bring in sketch books and things dear to him to explain what has triggered the various changes to his style technique and philosophy, as he will unveil lots of items in wood, metal, paper and of course fired clay to exemplify.
This talk will appeal to collectors and curators in particular, but also to a wider craft audience who takes an interest in ceramics and salt glazing.
Technical Talk: Salt Glazing with Peter Meanley
Venue: Craft NI Gallery
Date: 21st May at 12pm
In this talk, Peter Meanley will share his technical knowledge of salt glazing with his customary generosity. This talk will appeal to ceramics students, craft collectors as well as practicing ceramists who may want to learn about this technique and how to use it to get the beautiful results it can deliver. Peter is one of the very few ceramicists on the island of Ireland who specialize in salt glazing, with almost 40 years of experience and knowledge.
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