Free to view from 1 June
East End Gallery
Martin Smith’s ceramic practice examines the formal and spatial qualities of the vessel and ideas of containment. He deliberately subverts our expectations of a functioning pot through distortion of physical plains and volumes. Once described by fellow potter Allison Britton as ‘more of a mason than a potter’, Smith’s objects describe a machined accuracy that is not often associated with ceramics.
Although the objects appear thoroughly modern, with suggestions of Minimalism and Conceptualism, Smith’s inspiration is far-reaching, across medium and time. Influences such as Classical and Renaissance architecture and 18th century Dutch painting result in examinations of visual storytelling, illusory perspective and geometry. Despite his breadth of influence, Smith’s output, though visually diverse, is always recognisable as highly worked, precision made, and ideas-driven, a close investigation and amplification of material.
Smith studied at Bristol Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art, London, later becoming Head of Ceramics and Glass and Senior Research Fellow at the RCA. The works shown here span his career, from his RCA graduation work of 1977, to vessels made in 2017, using pioneering inkjet-printed glaze transfers.
Image: East End Gallery featuring work by Martin Smith. Photo: Andy Crouch
“Smith is constantly innovating, producing objects that broaden the ceramic vocabulary with unexpected surfaces, lively forms and subtle geometry.”