INSPIRED by the properties of clay, Kunsthuis Gallery, at Dutch House, Crayke, is presenting work by 14 British and international ceramicists in its last exhibition of this year.

Shades Of Clay 2018 explores the "challenges and versatility of clay as a sustainable, functional and universal medium" in the work of Drew Caines; Cian Radcliffe; Richard Smith; Jane Loveday; Kate Kirk; Laura Hancock; Tara Squibb; Emma Finch; Laura Lightbody; Kyra Mihailovic; Anna Donovan; Evelyn Pang; Stathis Dimitriadis and Laura de Benedetti.

"In its most basic form, clay is a combination of minerals in the ground, yet in seawater, it forms a hydrogel, a mass of tiny spaces that soak up other minerals, chemicals and tiny molecules from its surrounding area," says gallery co-owner Cecile Creemers.

"The ceramicists analyse the dialogues of form and surface, each through their own practical experimentation, using a variety of techniques to create methods of manipulating materials and surfaces."

York Press:

Anna Donovan's work

Born in Volos, Greece, Stathis Dimitriadis is now a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. His first experience with clay was as an apprentice in the pottery workshop of Michalis Sklavenas, and he went on to take inspiration from Rob Housley and John Dawson, Ali Sandeman and Shozo Michikawa.

Stathi’s work is a blend of "handcrafted materiality and conceptual imagery". "Using traditional processes to produce ceramic elements, he then combines this with ready-mades, found objects and text," says Cecile. "Stathis aims for organised ‘accidents’ to generate paradoxical features."

Tara Squibb has lived on the Powis Castle estate for more than 20 years, an idyllic location in the heart of Wales. Her work is influenced by natural phenomena and the surrounding landscapes, where she finds inspiration for form, texture and colour.

Working mainly with stoneware and porcelain, she creates both wheel-thrown and hand-built forms.

York Press:

A ceramic piece by Drew Caines 

Laura Lightbody's ceramic practice takes on a more modern view, born out of a fascination for the everyday: graphics, signage and objects. "These symbols, which appear everywhere, are often ignored or discarded by most, when in fact they communicate greatly about our lifestyle, habits and consumption in our consumerist, commercial society of today," says Cecile.

"Working in both 2D and 3D, Laura slip-casts as her main method of production: simple geometric forms in earthenware clay, such as cylinders and cubes, then decorated by hand."

Each piece is fired three times and the motifs reference patterns or artefacts gathered from the everyday.

"Laura has over the years honed down her practice, satisfying a balance between control and chance," adds Cecile.

Emma Finch details the ever-changing face of the built, re-built, re-modelled and re-used to tell a story through ceramic form and direct documentation. She creates layers and broken surfaces, having initially captured images in drawings, collage, print and photography before translating them into ceramics.

York Press:

Tara Squibb: exhibit in Shades Of Clay

"Buildings have become Emma’s vocabulary, in particular post-war Brutalist schemes. Each vessel, vase and plate made in response conveys a multi-layered story of urban degradation and renewal, as well as of a lost post-war ideal," says Cecile.

"From photographic records, she screen-prints directly on to slabs of clay, building up full-colour images to achieve a rich ceramic surface. These are constructed into forms using the slabs of decorated clay, as if fabric, that speak about the volume or expanse of buildings and are designed as canvases for the image, elevating and bestowing value to the sites within the images."

Shades Of Clay 2018 complements Kunsthuis's contemporary exhibition (our) eARTh 2018, wherein artists respond to the environment and climate change.

The clay exhibition runs at Kunsthuis Gallery, Dutch House, Mill Green Farm, Crayke, near Easingwold, until December 23. Opening hours are Friday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm, with late-night opening for Christmas shopping on December 7 and 14 until 8pm, when Dutch House will be open for food, festive gifts and a chance to browse the exhibitions.