I have begun a new series of sculptures to show at Aberystwyth, and at the time of writing (August 2006) I have completed 5 of the 10 works to be shown. This series is related to my last, as the pieces are still figurative and based on the work of the Staffordshire Potters of the 19th Century. The new series has been inspired by words and phrases rather than visual images or ideas. Working in this manner has fired my imagination and building one-off pieces on a small scale has allowed me to work quickly and spontaneously.
The common link in the new work is that all the pieces describe and reflect how I feel being a mature artist working with ceramics at this particular time and place.
The work of the two movements that have influenced me most, the Pop Artists of the 1960s when I began my career, and the Staffordshire Potters, were both concerned with reflecting the present, although for different reasons, the former for artistic and the latter for commercial.
I admire the qualities of both, the bold up front language of Pop Art, and the skilful naive expression of the Staffordshire Potters. I have always been interested in the position that ceramics occupies in relation to fine art, and also how fine art influences and informs aspects of ceramic sculpture. I believe that most ceramic artists wrestle with these concerns, as the status of ceramics is still that of the poor cousin.
It is important to me that the sculptures reflect my inner world as well as commenting on contemporary celebrities, in the spirit of the original flatbacks, and contain references that are understood in a populist way. The original flatbacks have an innocent charm that is impossible to reproduce, but the unique quality of “Englishness” that they possess can be achieved in the sense that I am an English artist working in England. This is simply a fact whether or not it conforms to notions of political correctness. More specifically, my grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia, so ethnically I am an English Jew. How strange that all this takes on more and more significance in the Post Modern, modern world.