Adam Buick, a ceramicist from Pembrokeshire, is one of the artists TOAST has collaborated with for our 'Of The Land' installations. He creates wood-fired ceramics based on the moon jar – an ancient Korean form made from pure white porcelain, so named for its globular shape and milky glaze. These pure, simple jars have become his spherical ‘canvas’ onto which he maps his local surroundings, creating slips of locally dug clay and incorporating coarse black sand and seaweed collected from the coast behind his studio. Diverse in scale and texture each jar reacts unpredictably during firing and, with its small imperfections and inclusions, is unique. Chaste and quite still in their beauty, these pots seem alive with the land.
Tell us about your work as a Ceramic Artist…
My work uses a single pure jar form as a canvas to map my observations from an ongoing study of my surroundings. My daily practice involves a lot of making, I am at the wheel most days. If not I'm packing and firing kilns, glazing and moving work around. I try to get out into the landscape regularly, to keep a connection to the land and my inspiration, often collecting new materials to try in my work.
What kind of clay / materials do you use?
I use a lot of different clays, various stoneware bodies, some that I add colouring oxides to. I also use porcelain, which is a beautiful clay. More important to me though is the clay that I find and dig from the local landscape. I incorporate stone and locally dug clay into my work to create a narrative, one that conveys a unique sense of place. The unpredictable nature of each jar comes from the inclusions and their metamorphosis during firing.
How did you learn pottery?
I learnt to throw from a two year intensive skills course run by the Crafts Council of Ireland. But I have been using clay since I was a child. There are many skills in being an artist and as I grow, I realise more and more, how just living in a landscape and the things you do and experience informs you.
Tell us about your work’s connection with the land?
Landscapes have inspired artists for generations but for me a landscape has to be felt. To depict it is always going to fall short. I was inspired by archaeological theories that the Menhirs of prehistory are a veneration of the landscapes that surrounds them. With my site-specific work I too am venerating the landscape. By placing a Jar at a particular location within the landscape I hope that it will make us look beyond the object to its surroundings.
My work is also about change, about natural cycles and the transience of human endeavour. Part of my ‘Earth to Earth’ project is to illustrate one cycle as a metaphor for all. I placed a raw, unfired Jar at the top of Carn Treliwyd in Pembrokeshire. Made from the earth; the wind and rain will return it back to the earth. Clay in turn is created from the weathering of igneous rocks upon which this unfired Jar stands.
Earth to Earth - the beginning... from Adam Buick on Vimeo.
Paths are a motif I use to represent my actual and metaphoric journeys through a place. To understand a landscape is to move through it, to give it context. Paths are like common routes of experience, guiding us through the landscape. They are connections through time, to others and to the land. Ultimately my work is about being present within a landscape.
Thoughts on collaborating with TOAST?
I think that TOAST has a wholesome and grounded aesthetic and I feel that my work can be appreciated in the same way.
Describe your workspace…
My studio is situated on the shoulder of a crag on the north coast of the St.Davids Peninsula. It is in a large agricultural barn at the top of a farm yard. I built an internal space with a woodburner to keep me warm in winter. I also have a large wood fired kiln, several wheels and shelves stacked with pots old, new and experimental.
What is a moon jar?
A Moon Jar is an ancient Korean form originally made from plain white porcelain. At the time they represented the epitome of the austere Confucian virtues of purity, honesty and modesty. I was so inspired by this pure form that I now use it as the composition for my work. This celestial form for me has become symbolic of the planet, my fascination with landscape and how humans have utilised its diversity of resources.
A landscape that most inspires you…
The landscape that is all around where I live and work inspires me most. There is a stretch of coast out beyond my studio, to the north. It is wild and relatively untouched. You can get lost out there in the heather and rock and sea.
Adam Buick's work will be on display at our Bath shop from 14 October – 4 November.
For more information on our 'Of The Land' installations - follow the link here