Richard Slee

Untitled, 2012

Now on view at Studio Voltaire, Richard Slee, ‘Untitled’, 2012.

As one of Britain's most important contemporary ceramic artists, Slee's work attempts to challenge every conventional notion in ceramic art, transcending its utilitarian roots whilst sidestepping the indulgent aspects of the studio tradition that became ubiquitous in the late twentieth century. His works lie in contemporary debate and reference the current positioning of material specialisations within visual creativity.

These ceramic moustaches are unique in a series and have been generously donated by the artist and Hales Gallery to support Studio Voltaire’s artistic and public programmes. These works were included in Camp Futility, Slee's solo commission at Studio Voltaire in 2012.

Central to Slee’s exhibition were several works based on vernacular objects such as wood saws, hammers, pick axes and camping equipment. Inspired by a residency at Alfred University, upstate New York, the works investigated particular myths surrounding the symbolism of America as a land of the great outdoors and pioneer spirit. Lashed together, workbenches, scattered tools, and an abandoned campfire transformed into an allegory of abandoned industry.

The uncanny hybrid of the deskilled ready-made and the crafted object conveys subversive humour that playfully investigates the limits of the ceramic tradition. Mass-produced, everyday objects are meticulously realised with highly glazed, bright colours. These seductive surfaces recall a Pop or postmodern aesthetic that belies the psychological and cultural references within the object.

Untitled, 2012
Glazed ceramics
Unique in a series
£960 each

  1. Richard Slee (b. 1946, Carlisle) works and lives in London. He studied Ceramics at Central School of Art & Design and the Royal College of Art. Until 2011 he was a senior Professor at the University of the Arts in London. His work has been shown in London and internationally since the late 1970s and recent exhibitions include Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970–1990, V&A Museum, London (2011-12), The Pier Arts Centre, Stromness (2004) and Tate St Ives (2003). His most recent solo exhibition, Mantlepiece Observations opened in 2021 at Bolton Museum, UK. Slee is represented by Hales Gallery, London.

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