Ceramics success for Brighton graduates
Image: Work by Nao Matsunaga, Phoebe Cummings and James Rigler
Three graduates from the University of Brighton Faculty of Arts, BA(Hons) and MDes Design and Craft courses are all proving to be rising stars within the field of contemporary ceramics practice.
Nao Matsunaga, James Rigler and Phoebe Cummings have all achieved recognition by exhibiting their work and winning commissions.
Nao Matsunaga and James Rigler, who graduated in 2002, were two of only five artists selected from over 200 applications by celebrated ceramicists, Felicity Aylieff, James Beighton and Lauren Parker, to exhibit at the prestigious Jerwood Makers Open 2012.
The artists each received a £7,500 commission to realise their proposals for new works of craft to be exhibited as part of the Jerwood Visual Arts Programme at Jerwood Space, London in July 2012, followed by a touring exhibition within the UK.
For the exhibition, Nao Matsunaga created raw organic forms from clay, juxtaposed by wooden and canvas elements. These large objects challenged preconceptions of the small, plinth-top scale usually associates with ceramics.
James Rigler works with ceramics to explore the idea and the forms of the monument. The commission allowed him to reverse the process of previous work, which employs architectural qualities to give weight to small, everyday objects, and instead, Rigler created monumental objects that retained an unsettling sense of the domestic and ordinary.
Phoebe Cummings studied 3D Craft at the University of Brighton before completing an MA in Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art in 2005. Since graduating she has undertaken a number of artist residencies, in the UK, USA and Greenland, including a three-month Arts/Industry residency at the Kohler Co. factory, Wisconsin in 2008 and six months as ceramics artist-in-residence at the V&A, London in 2010.
In October 2011, Cummings won the British Ceramics Biennial £10,000 Spode Award. Selected from 24 shortlisted contemporary artists, in a national open submission which attracted more than 160 hopefuls. Her winning piece entitled Fragment, invoked the prehistoric landscapes and raw material which drove the ceramic industry in the UK Potteries region, by shaping complex organic sculptures with raw clay at the sites where she found them.
Barney Hare Duke, a co-director of the Biennial who was a member of the judging panel said: "Fragment stood out as an extraordinary piece, moving the viewer apprehensively from the past through to an imagined future."
Cummings work also featured in the Formed Thoughts Exhibition at Jerwood Visual Arts in February 2012 and she is currently artist-in-residence at Camden Arts Centre. The fellowship supports artists extending the possibilities of working with clay. The Design and Craft course at Brighton continues to lay the foundations for students to become leaders in their field.