Profile
Barbara Gittings
Artist Image on Item View
East Sussex
ceramics
Nerikomi
porcelain
Barbara Gittings
Bottle 37, H27cm x W9cm x D9cm, Nerikomi Porcelain, £210

Barbara was born and raised in South Africa and after studying Fashion and Design in Johannesburg, moved to Cape Town. After a couple of years working in the fashion industryshe opened a fashion boutique with a friend where they sold their own designs. After trading successfully for 18 months they both decided that they wanted to see more of the world. "After travelling around Europe in a very rudimentary camper van for several months we came to England and I decided to stay," recalls Barbara, who was then in her early 20s. "I proceeded to pursue a career as a designer and pattern cutter in the fashion industry in London." Barbara came to ceramics rather late in life, having started adult education classes in pottery in 1999. "I very quickly became obsessed, reading everything I could lay my hands on about clay, ceramics and ceramic artists. Early in my clay journey I attended a week long course of smoke firing with Jane Perryman, which set me on my smoke firing path. At a term-long intensive course at the City Lit I came across a tiny picture of an ancient Chinese Nerikomi bowl in one of the library books and I was hooked. I spent the next 12 years learning by trial and error, dipping in and out of various adult education courses."

 

Barbara is now a full-time potter, exploring clay as an alternative medium to fabric. Based in Brighton she works from a small but perfectly formed studio in the back garden. In fashion, the layering of textiles and the power of the cut merge to find new balances and forms, the biomorphic and geometric held in tension. "My work in clay continues to explore this. The geometry of patterns in nature is a constant source of inspiration to me. Especially as random chaotic forces, growth, weathering and erosion push the initial perfect symmetry towards imperfection. I am always exploring this balance between symmetry and asymmetry in my work, trying to capture the imperfect perfection. I'm drawn to irregular repetition, primitive mark making and soft, earthy colours. I try to assimilate the poetry of things I see in the world and then allow them to rise up in my subconscious to inform the patterns that I put through the clay. The process of Nerikomi is very slow and exacting, and it's always a challenge to make larger pieces. The danger of cracking and warping, as the different colours react to the stages of drying, firing and smoke firing, is always present, but I am continually pushing myself towards larger pieces. All my work is low fired, unglazed, with the patterns going through the body of the piece.

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