Philip Eglin is a master of irreverence. In his exhibition at Oxford Ceramics Gallery (Sept. 26th-Oct. 17th, 2015) the work appears beautifully circumstantial, as if he walked into the studio still drunk from the previous night, grabbed the closest tools to him and began to create. And surprisingly, through all the haphazard constructions, mismatched styles, and in nonsense plays on words, is a perfectly coherent exhibition. This easy-going attitude is seen throughout the show, even with the gallery sales model. Eglin’s art practice feels natural, unforced, and completely free of art world pretension.
Above Image: Philip Eglin, Spotted Dick
From the gallery:
Eglin is one of the UK’s most celebrated ceramists, whose work is represented in collections worldwide. He trained in Staffordshire and at the Royal College of Art, and in 1996 was awarded the Jerwood Prize for ceramics. His work draws on an eclectic range of sources from medieval wood carving and German Renaissance painting to popular culture and contemporary imagery, combined and transformed into something entirely personal.
Respect for artistic tradition coupled with gentle irreverence are a hallmark of Philip Eglin’s unique ceramics. His most recent exhibition, featuring a range of animated slipware inspired by 19th-century examples in the Aberystwyth Collection, Wales, is no exception.
Eglin’s series of sloppy slip trailed plates are humorous plays on words including “Spotted Dick” (A British pudding), “Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder,” and “God in Butter Sauce.” All of the sayings will make you hesitate briefly before consuming your meal. Showing a similar irreverence towards the conventions of the art gallery, Eglin is replacing pieces in the gallery as they sell, creating a continually changing show for each of the exhibits.
The pieces on show in the current exhibition were made in response to the Buckley pottery collection at Aberystwyth University. Eglin states, “I wanted to acknowledge the tradition of slipware whilst at the same time attempting to revitalise and reinvigorate it for the present.” As a result, he has created a series of monumental jugs reminiscent of their 19th-century predecessors but infused with his own character and adorned with spontaneous, rhythmic abstract patterns or detailed drawings.
Justin Crowe is a Writer and Director of Operations at CFile.
Any thoughts about Eglin’s contemporary ceramic art? Tell us what you think in the comment box below!