Celia Dowson is a British artist whose artistic intention is to draw out the extraordinary in everyday objects. Her collections are designed and made with careful precision and are developed through observing the natural world and qualities of atmosphere and place. Going beyond the classical concepts of function, Celia’s works are embedded with mark and gesture to realise evolving landscapes – from the mountains that surround Taipei to the wildly changing sea at the Gower Peninsula in Wales.
The Mountainscape Collection
It is a welcome sight to see Celia's latest exploration, The Mountainscape Collection in our Bamford stores. The Mountainscape Collection of porcelain vessels are embedded with mark and gesture, capturing an evolving landscape: inspired by the deep greens of the vegetation in the monsoon season, the indigo blue skies and the mountains that surround Taipei during a recent artist residency she did there.
This collection of mountainscape vessels was born out of a residency at Ying Ceramic Museum in Taiwan.
Inspired by the constant changes and shifts in nature, she uses indigo and moss greens to reflect the hues of the vegetation, mountains and skies.
To create her vessels, Celia uses a machine called a jigger-jolly. Each piece Celia creates is unique and differs depending on how the clay is applied to the mould, how much water is used, the gestures and marks, the speed at which the piece is rotating and how the clay is pushed to the side of the mould. After the first firing, Celia sands the pieces using a diamond pad to reveal the layers of marks. Finally, once the pieces come out of the kiln for the second time they are polished by hand, which can take hours producing smooth vessels without scratches.
IMAGE: HELEN CATHCART
'I am fascinated by industrial process and adapt traditional casting techniques to make handcrafted design. I am excited by how an extensive understanding into a craft offers the opportunity to push and explore a material, and challenge a process. I make ceramic and glass objects which consider the domestic and ritual of everyday life, however the pieces I make are not always traditionally functional and often allow only for reflection.'
- Celia Dowson
Celia Dowson's Mountainscape collection of large and small porcelain vessels are available to view and purchase at our Bamford store in Mayfair, London and will be moving to our Bamford Barn in The Cotswolds at a future date. Learn more here.
It’s a sunny, clear morning as I make my way along one of southeast London’s arterial thoroughfares to meet Celia Dowson. Passing Camberwell Arts School, I leave the traffic fumes and urban throb behind me as I turn into Vanguard Court, a quiet, cobbled cul-de-sac, home to a vibrant community of artists and artisans. The low-ceilinged, bright, but compact studio Celia shares with fellow graduates from the Royal College of Art, feels like a fitting but also a slightly curious choice of workplace for an artist whose work is so heavily informed by wide, expansive spaces and the movement and flux in nature.
‘There’s a feeling of camaraderie and community here – a like-mindedness – so it’s an inspiring place for someone like me who is still quite fresh out of art school,’ she tells me. ‘And while my design process begins with a concept – walking, or gathering things from a particular landscape, to try and develop an idea in my mind, the process of bringing it to life is very technical and this space suits that side to my work.’
Celia’s milk-white porcelain vessels streaked with sweeping black marks are inspired by the Gower Peninsula in Wales. ‘I visit the area often because I have family there. Rhossili Bay is this vast headland that juts out into a wild and changeable sea and I wanted to draw out the qualities of the landscape. There is a huge tidal shift, so the pieces reflect that turbulence and movement; to me they look like crashing waves but they’re also very abstract. People see different things in them and that’s what I’m hoping for. You don’t need to know my story to enjoy a piece; I want it to evoke something in you so that it will give meaning to your life.’
CRAFT ROOTED IN PLACE
This Autumn-Winter we look to the past: to a heritage in textile production and to the skills and craftmanship of the generations of regional makers on whose expertise we rely; communities whose livelihood and future are so precariously balanced upon the survival of their craft. Amid a world of rapid change and reliance on technology, our support of these factories and the artisans that sustain them, are as important to us as the fibres we work.