These works by British artist Frances Priest at the Tansey Contemporary booth were among the ceramic gems at this year’s SOFA fair in Chicago. Priest’s work explores languages of ornament in decorative art and design, where it is found, how it is used and the craft process involved in its production.
Above and below: Francis Priest, From the series Gathering Places. Each work is approximately 44 cm d x 19 cm h. The pieces are incised, inlaid with oxide, painted with earthenware glaze and overlaid with enamel transfers. Photographs by Shannon Tofts Photography, courtesy of the artist.
Recently I have been drawn to pattern books and to thinking about how they are compiled and used by designers and crafts people. I think ornament is exciting because it is a visual language that can communicate a great deal about people, places, and cultures. I am excited by the idea of the mobility of ornament and how, through reproduction, motifs evolve and change as a consequence of the individual maker’s hand, manufacturing processes and materials.
I enjoy the accessibility of pattern and how we all have a connection or understanding to languages of ornament. Pattern books in particular seem to embody the democratic nature of pattern, offering an open source of ideas, which can be used and adapted.
This central theme provides a platform for projects in varied and sometimes unexpected settings, from a Tudor banqueting room in Sheffield England, to an underpass in Cumbernauld, Scotland, a mobile collection of ceramic forms that travelled around Scotland and, most recently, a collection of botanically inspired bespoke ceramics for a country home on the island of Raasay, in collaboration with botanist Stephen Bungar that cfile will be covering soon.
Love contemporary ceramic art + design? Tell us what you think of Frances Priest’s decorative forms in the comments!