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New pottery art exhibition coming to ArtHouse Southport

11 months ago

New pottery art exhibition coming to ArtHouse Southport
Pots and Prints (63 to 1) Arthouse Southport

Pots and Prints (63 to 1) will be local artist, Mervyn Thomas’, first solo exhibition.

Mervyn Thomas, a popular exhibitor with regional groups and societies, is bringing a one-man-showcase to the ArtHouse Southport.

Mostly self-taught, Mervyn has been working with clay since he first studied pottery growing up in the Midlands:

Mervyn said:

“In the 1960’s I was lucky enough to go to a Technical School in Birmingham where, aged 11, I first met up with clay. I found that I had an aptitude for making pots, and ended up studying Ceramics to A-level.  I really enjoyed pottery which acted as a counter to the stresses of my other more academic subjects.”

However, pains in the backs on his hands suggested that working with wet clay might not be a career option and for the next 35 years Mervyn went into farming.

He added:

“Throughout my working life, I still retained my love of and interest in ceramics.  Occasionally I studied pottery at evening classes, but the sessions were few and far between. Nevertheless I maintained my enthusiasm primarily through reading ‘Ceramic Review’ magazine and by studying various books on ceramics.”

When he retired, Mervyn quite naturally reconnected with clay and now fills his time making his own distinctive pots in-between managing and tutoring at the ClayWorks studio in Southport where he generously passes on his skills to newcomers.

101 uses for a dead Dalek - number 23 forcing rhubarb. “I like the incongruity of this pot. I call it “101 uses for a dead Dalek - number 23 forcing rhubarb”. It was thrown upside down in two parts, the base being just tall enough to let me shut the lid of my kiln. The clay body is crank which gives extra resilience for outdoor pots and the decoration is a combination of oxides and brushed on glaze.”
101 uses for a dead Dalek – number 23 forcing rhubarb. “I like the incongruity of this pot. I call it “101 uses for a dead Dalek – number 23 forcing rhubarb”. It was thrown upside down in two parts, the base being just tall enough to let me shut the lid of my kiln. The clay body is crank which gives extra resilience for outdoor pots and the decoration is a combination of oxides and brushed on glaze.”

Mervyn continued:

“The main influences on my pottery have been nature, and oriental art, particularly bronze, jade and the ceramics of China and Japan.  Individuals who have influenced my making are Shoji Hamada, Lucie Rie, Takeshi Yasuda and latterly Colin Pearson and John Glick.”

Preferring to work in white porcelain, Mervyn is drawn to the extra challenges – “it has been likened to throwing with cream cheese!” – the difficult medium presents.

“My first love is throwing. Much of my work is based on the wheel.  However, I love distorting and altering what I have thrown. I enjoy producing work, which is by turn delicate, brutal, experimental, surprising or quirky whilst always trying to develop and push the boundaries of my knowledge and skills,” he said.

Mervyn’s investigative pursuits recently took him away from his wheel: “Last year, I took up printing – hence the title for my exhibition.  Initially my idea was to explore ways to print onto clay. However the more I learn, the more I discover that there are a myriad of different techniques that can be used.  I’m still experimenting – watch this space.”

Despite careful planning, Mervyn always makes room for the unpredicted to be revealed after firing: “Having made and then applied decoration to a pot, I generally have a good idea of what I am expecting to come out of the kiln.  Sometimes I am disappointed because it hasn’t matched my expectations.  Often though others without my preconceptions will like the pot.  The capacity for serendipitous outcomes is something I find a great joy when making ceramics.” 

A firm believer in the tactile nature of his craft, although Mervyn advocates that “pots are meant to be fondled” he asks visitors to: “feel free to handle any of my pots in the exhibition, but please be careful!”

Mervyn’s distinctive artwork will be on display at the ArtHouse, Eastbank Street, Southport from 25 July – 5 August 2023. 

The gallery is open Tuesday – Friday 10.00-15.00.  Saturday 11.00-16.00.

For more info on ArtHouse Southport click here.

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