The medium of ceramics is having a moment just now. But, as the subject of this retrospective at the V&A, leading ceramic artist Alison Britton has previously noted, ceramics are always there, it’s just that the interest in them culturally seems to go in peaks and troughs. Interest is surely at a peak for the artist herself whose expressive hand-built pots seem to give sculpture and painting equal prominence and have earned her international recognition. The V&A’s Content and Form retrospective features over 60 pieces from the breadth of her career over the last 40 years and hopes to highlight the evolution of the artist’s practice over this period. It includes her most recent pieces – made in 2015 – being shown publicly for the first time and to our untrained eye shows all of the abstract works to be timelessly modern.
The artist came to prominence in the 1970s when she was part of a loosely formed group of radical female potters, all of whom had trained at the Royal College of Art (where she is now a senior lecturer) and whose work challenged established traditions – Alison is widely credited with reshaping the crafts industry in the 20th century and is also a respected writer on her subject.
On her task to put pieces from the different eras of her work together she told the V&A that “the improvised relationship between the painted surface and the irregular form is what continues to engage me.”
See Content & Form in gallery 146 at the V&A until 4 September 2016.