Contemporary Ceramic Artist Rowena Gilbert
Rowena was selected to become a member of The Sussex Guild of Professional Designer Makers in 2016, was a finalist for the Craft & Design Selected Awards: Ceramics in 2013 and in 2011. She graduated in 2002 with a BA (Hons) Three Dimensional Crafts (specialising in Ceramics). In the same year she won "The Best Up & Coming Local Artist Award, Brighton & Hove" having set up in a ceramic art studio as a full time artist, designer and maker . Rowena continues to develop and produce striking contemporary ceramics for numerous galleries and exhibitions nationally and internationally.
Rowena's ceramics have featured in Sussex Life, Vogue, The World of Interiors, Elle Decoration Magazines and in The Guardian, The Times and The Metro Newspapers.
Her work has a distinctive and wholly original contemporary style. Using additions of metal oxides and stains, the coloured clay layers are brushed on or inlaid in incised lines and marks on the slip cast or coiled form. The surface marks are created using various sgraffito tools when the clay vessel is in a leather-hard state.
She bisque fires, then masks areas on the outside of the form using wax resist, glazing the inside and the unmasked areas with a matt or transparent gloss with the final firing at 1160-1180°C. All pieces are high-fired ceramic.
All pieces are individually hand made by Rowena in her Brighton studio and have her signature mark on the base.
My work is informed by my travels and my coastal hometown of Brighton, where the colours of the beaches and the flora and fauna of the nearby South Downs provide a source of inspiration. Moods and personal experiences also influence my work in more subconscious ways. After recent travels in Southeast Asia, the beaches of the Thai coast provided fresh inspiration for pieces that have taken my work in a new direction. Following the trip, experiments with new colour palettes led to an unintentional spread of hundreds of turquoise blue swatches, spread out in my studio like an ocean of tiny tiles.
The Reef series pieces are a response to this time spent swimming and snorkelling in Thailand, and convey the mesmerising effect of spending hours under the water: forms flutter across the aquamarine surface of the pieces, fish darting between corals and aquatic plants; the glaze ripples like water. The Coast Series are a response to the skylines and shores of these tropical islands, capturing the constantly changing hues and movements of these spaces with accents of waves splashing against rocks and birds in flight.
The Reef and Coast Series mark a step away from the more controlled work of past years. Natural themes still dominate, but not the figurative forms of past work; this is a more abstract interpretation. The new pieces embrace intuitive mark-making, showing that even as the work has matured, it has become more playful. I am very excited to see how these new feelings and ideas will develop.
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Studio 3, Level 5 (North) New England House, New England Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 4GH, GB
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