An Evening with Ceramicist Patricia Low
Friday 1 March 2019
Patricia Low creates timeless, archaic pots that, in their clean white simplicity and large bold illustrations, are also very contemporary.
Educated as a painter, first at Swindon art school and then at Chelsea school of art, her love of making pots emerged when she came to live in Wiltshire in the 1980’s and met the distinguished ceramicist, Joanna Still, who taught her to make pots.
Building each pot by hand with white building clay rather than on a wheel, her vessels have a clean creamy finish and are embellished by turtles, rhinoceroses, eagles, moths – a whole range of animals.
In a talk she gave at Messums Wiltshire she explained how each pot takes her between two months and five months to complete, depending on their size. She starts with white builder’s clay rather than red clay as she says she likes “a cleaner finish’ and cradling them in her lap, begins by painting the inside of the pot first – a mesmerising miasma of squiggles and lines that, almost like the ceiling of a Byzantine church invites you into thinking about the Infinite.
‘The insides are the best bit – it all feels rather Zen when I paint it’ she says. ‘I map the design all out on a piece of paper first and try and copy it using a very fine sable brush until I get into a rhythm. Drawing is very cerebral.’
She added; ‘There is not enough room to do complicated animal drawings; when I first started I had to get used to painting to accommodate the swell on the pot.’
Her first sales success came when the textile designer Georgina von Etzdorf and her co-founder, Martin Simcock, asked to use her vessels as containers for their luxurious range of velvet ties and scarves at a trade fair in London.
The show resulted in dozens of orders for Low whose career has since gone from strength to strength and whose pots have got bigger and won ever more acclaim.
‘We had so much fun, with parties and madness and art’ she said.
As Johnny Messum concluded; ‘Patricia has created pots that are fundamentally different. Behind an incredible character is a steely determination bringing ceramics into the mainstream.’
An exhibition of Patricia Low’s pots is at Salisbury Museum in October 2020.