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Ceramic Review is the magazine for contemporary and historical ceramics, ceramic art and pottery.


Ceramic Review Issue 296

March/April 2019

Duncan Ayscough masterclass. Photo Layton Thompson for Ceramic Review

'Essentially I see my pots as containers of distilled thoughts, moments arrested in time expressing the narratives of their own making.' In this video, potter Duncan Ayscough discusses his work, inspirations, and the processes he uses to throw and combine the elements of a long-necked pot. Find the full step-by-step masterclass inside Ceramic Review issue 295 (Jan/Feb 2019).

‘I clearly remember my first encounter with clay: discovering the beautiful yellow and red material as a child beneath the topsoil in my parents’ garden, enjoying the rich earth smell and the way it would yield under pressure. Opportunities to explore clay creatively at school led to a further understanding of how this malleable substance could be transformed by the application of heat into a permanent object, and a lifelong love of the subject. I remember aged 13, watching my school teacher Stuart Weichert throwing on a Leach kickwheel, captivated by the clay being transformed into a pot. It seemed clear to me from that moment that this was a process I was determined to give myself to.

I aspire to embody simplicity of form, balance, and an integral relationship between form and surface, interior and exterior

As a teenager, my bedroom walls were covered with images of communist revolutionary heroes and 20th-century studio pottery. I started subscribing to Ceramic Review as a 14-year-old; my first issue had Walter Keeler on the cover and an article written by Michael Casson.

During my Masters studies at Cardiff School of Art & Design, I had the good fortune of being taught by Michael, and consider myself to be one of the many potters guided by his passion for the subject and creative ambition. Finding your own voice in an area that has 10,000 years of creative connection to humans is a challenging journey and I believe good teachers and mentors are essential.

My first studio was in London, a space rented from Barry Guppy at his Pimlico Pottery. It was a wonderful and completely immersive experience of making and then delivering work on my bike to galleries and shops as well as selling at markets on the weekend. This period was an extremely steep learning curve both creatively and professionally. I believe one of the hardest lessons for anyone making their way in the professional world is how to manage the space between creative ambition and the sometimes harsh reality of making your work into a commercial commodity.

Finding your own voice in an area that has 10,000 years of creative connection to humans is a challenging journey

I have been teaching ceramics at degree level for over 25 years now, over which time there have been enormous changes throughout education at all levels. My experience of teaching has never felt more exciting and challenging than it does now.

It is both a privilege and a responsibility to be part of creating a dynamic learning culture that meets the needs of the students, equipping them creatively, developing skills and material knowledge, as well as a clear understanding of their professional trajectory. There is nothing more thrilling as an educator than to see your graduates evolving their careers and shaping the future of ceramics in all its many and diverse dimensions. I consider myself as having a modernist creative sensibility in developing my practice. I aspire to embody simplicity of form, balance, and an integral relationship between form and surface, interior and exterior. Essentially I see my pots as containers of distilled thoughts, moments arrested in time expressing the narratives of their own making – objects of contemplation.’

Learn how Duncan makes his work inside Ceramic Review issue 295 (Jan/Feb 2019), which features his full step-by-step masterclass.

Duncan Ayscough masterclass. Photo Layton Thompson for Ceramic Review
Duncan Ayscough masterclass. Photo Layton Thompson for Ceramic Review
Duncan Ayscough masterclass. Photo Layton Thompson for Ceramic Review
Duncan Ayscough masterclass. Photo Layton Thompson for Ceramic Review
Duncan Ayscough masterclass. Photo Layton Thompson for Ceramic Review
Duncan Ayscough masterclass. Photo Layton Thompson for Ceramic Review