19 September – 8 November 2020
‘Earth, water, air and fire. Gabriele Koch’s lovely pots speak of all four of those elements as vividly as any I know.’ Sir David Attenborough
‘These pots exhibit such tremendous “presence” that one can sense the tension created, as if the walls are being stretched by the force of containment.’ Peter Lane, Ceramic Review
Please scroll down to see Gabriele Koch’s new work.
Gabriele Koch’s most recent ceramics combine two contrasting materials, heavy dark clay and white porcelain, in vessels of compelling quietude. Edmund de Waal described her pots as ‘articulate: they are wide in reach and deeply focussed.’ In his monograph, Gabriele Koch Hand building and smoke firing published in 2009, Tony Birks wrote, ‘There is something that lies beyond skill and experience: it is passion, an intensity which is evident in the work of Gabriele Koch.’
Admired by collectors the world over, Gabriele Koch’s pots are in public collections across Britain, Europe, Canada and USA and in private collections worldwide. Born in Germany, she came to UK as a graduate from the University of Heidelberg, attended Camden Institute and King’s College London qualifying as a teacher before studying Art & Design at Goldsmiths. She was awarded two Crafts Council grants in 1982 and 1984 and a prize at the international Biennale in France in 1984. She was a visiting lecturer at Farnham School of Art from 1987 to 1998 when she also gave a lecture tour in Israel with the British Council. In 2011 she gave the inaugural Rothschild Memorial lecture at Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead. Her own statement about the work in this exhibition is below.
Gabriele Koch Statement for Sladers Yard 2020
Although I grew up in Germany my initial desire to work in clay was kindled in Spain when I spent a term in Zaragoza to study. Repeated visits to the interior had left a deep impression: an open desert-like landscape with simple horizon lines and strong earth colours from black to ochre to red. I also discovered the beauty of unglazed pottery, the surfaces enlivened by fire marks, and the strong sculptural forms of unglazed jugs, hints of Africa and early cultures. My desire to express myself in the visual arts had found the material to work in: clay.
Coming to Britain with its flourishing ceramics scene made the realization of this ambition more attainable. In the seventies the Leach tradition was still dominant, however I did not follow in his footsteps although I recognized his historical importance and shared his search for simplicity, restraint and beauty in a pot. Lucie Rie and Hans Coper with a modernist urban and sculptural approach offered another aspect of ceramics.
There was perhaps a meeting of the ancient and the modern, the rural and the urban that led me to the making of simple forms, trying to integrate balance and tension, stillness and movement, expansion and the containment of volume, precision and spontaneity. My interest in the elemental quality of ceramics led me to explore unglazed, burnished, smoke fired work, investigating the direct interaction between fire and earth.
I have now left smoke firing behind and my work has developed a more graphic language combining stoneware clay with porcelain. My original idea for this body of work came from looking at geological landscape and how different layers of sediment combine in rock formations. This led me to the idea of combining quite opposite materials like stoneware clay and porcelain. I became interested in the possibilities of linear patterns organizing the space of a three dimensional form exploring how the dynamics of the line can change the energy of a piece. There is a development from the simple movement of the spiral to the irregularly spaced cross movements of a stringed pattern to the vibrational alignment of horizontal lines and the moving energy of undulating bands and vertical striations across the form.
All pieces are hand built. The white earthenware pieces are burnished by hand to achieve a tactile surface with a slightly vibrational appearance. The silken burnished surface is interrupted and contrasted with a worked-in texture, they are fired to 1000C. The stoneware pieces have integrated bands of porcelain, which are sometimes complemented by brushed-on porcelain slip. Some pieces have painted-on porcelain slip only. The final surface is often achieved by multiple firings to 1200C.
Gabriele Koch’s pots are shown below and are available to reserve or buy now. Any enquiries please contact the gallery on firstname.lastname@example.org or t: +44 (0)1308 459511
Any enquiries about Gabriele Koch’s work, please email: email@example.com.
‘Gabriele’s pots are articulate: they are wide in reach and deeply focussed’ Edmund de Waal
’In Ceramics, there is something that lies beyond skill and experience: it is passion, an intensity which is evident in the work of Gabriele Koch.’ Tony Birks