Today, we get an impassioned interview with Derek Wilson, who is a ceramist in Belfast. Derek, looks for simplicity, basing his objects on restraint, containment and minimalism.
Your objects are some of them finished glazed and some of them are matt, showing material texture, but with color in mass. Why don’t you show the principal material appearance?
Pieces such as the porcelain stemmed bowls show the ‘principle material appearance’ as they are left unglazed on the outside. For these pieces I was interested in the contrast of surface between the glazed and unglazed. I also found the tactile quality of the unglazed exterior surface appealing. I have recently been experimenting with numerous clay bodies that I have been leaving unglazed. I guess it depends on the quality of the material you are using and whether the rawness of that material lends itself to being unglazed.
I like your concept, that you work on a diverse range of objects, from the functional to the sculptural ones, and even, your work in your web, you divide Object/ Function. Don’t you think that your sculptural objects can have a use, and a good one?
Yes, of course, a lot of my work tends to cross over between utilitarian objects and objects that may have a sense of the domestic or elements of containment, yet whilst making the more sculptural pieces I tend not to think about function or how the object can be used. The object based work tends to influence the functional and vice versa.
I really like the texture for ‘void’ series, how do you get it?
The finish on the ‘Void’ series is an engobe, this is painted on between firings, and often layered, polished and re-fired up to 4 -5 times until I am satisfied with the depth and quality of surface.
Do you fabricate by yourself all your designs? And even all the copies to be sold of each series?
At the moment all of the work is executed by myself, I run a small studio based practice and I am currently looking at the possibilities of taking on an apprentice.
Do you have any series in which each piece is unique?
All of the sculptural pieces are unique, the ‘Void’ series was only made as an edition of 12 and each piece varied in form, scale or surface quality. Also all of my tableware tends to vary slightly due to it being hand made. I have always been interested in the subtle flaws and irregularities in objects created by hand.
In your work, you use soft colors, grey, blue, even yellow, you do not like color?
I had originally kept the tableware minimal and void of colour as my intention was to highlight the subtle nuances and qualities found in hand made objects. More recently I have started to explore and experiment with colour evident in the ‘We all Contain Things’ series. Colour is something I currently intend to explore further in my practice.
Which is the meaning of ‘ Tray’ series places in one wood box?
The tray series started as experiments with coloured porcelain. I was interested in the gradation of tones. I then began to construct ceramic boxes to contain these pieces. The cylinders would then be placed within the box, they became like small installations as all the cylinders would vary in size and then had to be placed and fit into a specific space.
I really like your images that you have in your web, do you take them? What do you want to say through this kind of images with the same delicacy as your objects?
Photography has always been an important element to my practice, and it has always been essential that the images compliment my own aesthetic that I aim to achieve within my work. The photograhs are taken by Chris Martin, I have always admired his work and it is always a pleasure to work with him.
Which ones are your sources of inspiration?
Inspiration tends to come from materials and processes, everyday objects and mid century design and art.
Which would be your ideal project?
To work with industry.
What is beauty for you?
Simplicity and repetition.
Do you spend time in your work to publications or other media to make yourself know and increase sales, or you have someone to help you?
I currently work solely on all areas of my practice and this includes dealing with enquiries from journals, paper work, and the general running of my whole practice.
Which is the most difficult thing in your work?
Multitasking and balancing time.
Which is what you like more from your work?
The journey of seeing initial ideas develop from drawings and designs through to the production stage.
Which one has been your biggest success?
Probably cups and pourers would be the pieces that I currently tend to never have enough stock off.
What is your biggest dream for the future?
To continue and develop what I am already doing.
Images by Chris Martin