Shaped from the Earth: Sheffield Ceramics to take centre stage at Millennium Gallery

By Richard Moss | 23 May 2016

Sheffield potter Penny Withers brings together work by a wide range of city-based makers for a summer ceramics show at the Millennium Gallery

a photo of two hand-thrown ceramic vessels with reeds decoration
Hanne Westergaard, Wood and Soda Marks© Ian Gracey
"The secret that people who work with clay have discovered is it is very good for you to connect with the earth,” says Penny Withers, ceramicist and curator of a forthcoming show at the Millennium Gallery Sheffield celebrating the steel town's cohesive ceramics scene.

“It is therapy,” she adds. “It is a medium for understanding and communicating ideas."

Sheffield is home to a thriving community of ceramicists and ceramic artists who use a vast array of techniques and approaches to communicate their ideas through clay. The diverse range of work they have created can bee seen in Shaped from the Earth: Sheffield Ceramics, which opens on June 18.  

Among them, Antonia Salmon is an established ceramicist who experiments with different stoneware clays, burnished and smoke fired surfaces.

Working from a studio extension at home, she takes her sculptures out to a smoking kiln in Derbyshire to produce work that shows an awareness of form and space and is represented in private and public collections throughout the UK, Europe, USA, Japan and China.

a ceramic artwork of discs mimicking the shape of a soundwave
Antonia Salmon, Echo© Antonia Salmon
Victoria Dawes is a studio potter currently based in Sheffield whose hand thrown tableware is inspired by a life traveling and living between New Zealand, North America and the UK and reflects on themes of home and family traditions.

She is currently in the second year of the Starter Studio for Ceramics at Yorkshire Artspace and has been selected for the Craft Council’s Hot House 2016 programme. 

An established ceramicist herself, curator Withers is based at Persistence Works and has been working in Sheffield for many years. 

"In its fired form, clay can enrich our daily lives around the rituals of taking nourishment; our lips kiss a cup lip as our fingers stroke its surface," she says of the joy of pottery.

"Through the exhibition I aim to show the enjoyment that everyone can find in both pottery and ceramic sculpture."

Shaped from the Earth will also allow visitors to support the city’s makers directly, with many of the works on show available for purchase.

a photo of a ceramic cat with an abstract appearance
Anna-Mercede Weir, Black and White Cat © Photo Jerry Lampson
a photo of a terracotta plate with a blue overwash and leaf decoration
Victoria Dawes, Blue Plate
a photo of a dish plate with lime green colour and apple decoration
Josie Walter, Lunch Plate with Apple© Chris Webb
a photo of a five free form vases with twisted necks
Penny Withers, Freeform Family© Photo Jerry Lamsden
  • Shaped from the Earth: Sheffield Ceramics is at the Millennium Galleries, Sheffield, from June 18 - October 9 2016. Admission free.

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