Saturday, 21 March 2015

A visit to Charles Bound, Ceramic Artist

The other day I was lucky enough to be invited along to visit the Ceramic Artist, Charles Bound at his home and studio in Geuffordd, not far from Welshpool. I was accompanying my good friend, James Hazlewood, who has recently completed the gargantuan task of editing and updating the 3rd edition of the text, British Studio Potters' Marks . Charles and his wife, Joy, were most hospitable and kindly allowed us to spend a few hours roaming around the beautiful gardens and outbuildings of their farm, whilst discovering stunning examples of pottery and sculpture round every corner. We were also incredibly fortunate with the March weather, and although it was still rather chilly in the shade, the sun shone brightly the whole time we were there. 

A conversation with Charles Bound is always fascinating and instructive and his ceramic work has been hugely inspirational for me. He is a true artist in the sense that his approach to making is utterly individual and uncompromising. Work is never produced with a specific market in mind and self-promotion of his prodigious, creative output seems to be the least of his concerns. Indeed, Charles has been known to turn down the opportunity to sell a piece if he decides more time is needed to contemplate it.

He constantly experiments and prefers to just "let go and allow things to happen" both when throwing on the wheel and hand building with clay. Keeping a completely open mind when it comes to technique has allowed him to continuously innovate and in his own words, to "go well beyond what is sane and rational". Nothing is ruled out in the creative process, whether it's hurling leather-hard slabs of clay onto the floor, incorporating found objects from the farm into sculptures, or even assembling discarded fragments of pottery and re-firing them to create new and intriguing forms. Charles is never afraid to tear apart and re-configure an unfired piece, or join several pots together to see if something interesting will emerge. It is partly this sense of joyful, serendipitous discovery expressed through the work which makes it so appealing. 

All of the clay pieces (none of which is normally bisqued) are fired for several days in a traditional, anagama kiln, and they come out bearing the scars and encrusted deposits from a protracted battle with smoke, ash and rivers of flame. There exists a primal and raw energy within the wood-fired ceramics which can actually be felt when running your hands over the deeply textured and fissured surfaces. These works of art will no doubt challenge some peoples' aesthetic sensibilities, but, for myself, their boldness of execution and brutal honesty of expression make them all the more captivating. Such is the variety and breadth of Charles Bound's work, I find it impossible to describe it adequately in a few paragraphs. If you would like to learn more, there is an excellent website with a gallery of wonderful images and a number of articles which shed further light on Charles' life and working practices.

Here is a selection of the photographs I took during my all-too brief visit. I hope you'll enjoy them even though they can't really do justice to the work  As with the best literature or music, one needs to spend some considerable time in the company of Charles Bound's ceramics to fully appreciate their subtle depth, power and beauty.

Charles Bound (left) with James Hazlewood
Inside the studio: a work in progress

Work in progress
Work in progress

Charles Bound's ceramic art will soon feature in the new Gnarly Dudes Exhibition, taking place at The Barn Pottery, Moretonhampstead on 18th-19th April 2015. Further details of the Event, which will also showcase the work of Nic Collins, Svend Bayer, Jon Fellows and Chuck Schwartz,  can be found on facebook here.

Thanks for reading.