Kate Malone is a British studio potter and ceramic artist known for her large sculptural vessels and rich, bright glazes.
She is judge on the BBC2 Great Pottery Throw Down series.
Malone studied at Bristol Polytechnic (1979–82) and, after leaving the Royal College of Art in 1986, has built studios in London and Provence. Malone has the largest crystal glaze archive in the UK and uses her own recipes to work on both her studio ceramics and with architects and interior designers around the world.
In 2015 Malone worked to produce a facade with EPR architects at 24 Saville Row which gained a first place WAN Facade Award.
Malone’s work is held in numerous public collections including Arts Council, The Victoria and Albert Museum, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, Crafts Council, The Ashmolean Museum, Musée national de céramique de Sèvres, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Malone is patron of the Clay College Stoke-on-Trent, Ambassador for The Geoffrey Museum and often speaks publicly of her belief in the benefits of maintaining craft making’ in schools as part of a basic education for every child.
Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently
Having studied at the R.C.A (Royal College of Art) in 1986 I set out to become one of the U.K’s leading ceramic artists. I am fulfilling this dream
I have been working for 30 years in the field of ceramics. I work in three areas; public art; decorative arts; ceramic glaze research. I am also one of the two judges on BBC2 The Great Pottery Throwdown , a TV programme that reaches millions around the world. It is my aim to demonstrate excellence in these fields. It is also my aim to enjoy making and be fully creative as an artist.
See my web site to view the works I have made: www.katemalonecermaics.com
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
After 30 years of running small intense working studios in London, I have just purchased a beautiful historic buildings and a home in the English countryside of Kent. Space will not be an issue and I am installing a sate of the art studio – this is my current project.
At the same time one small London studio and home, built by my husband Graham, keeps working with my 11 assistants working part time – to help to make the decorative art pieces my art dealer Adrian Sassoon exhibits on a regular basis. My work is shown by him in six of the worlds most distinguished Art and Design fair. I spend my time moving between city and country studios and travelling the world to deliver ceramic lectures, masterclasses and work with schools. I have a particular interest in the education of children in government schools. Art is a subject that breeds creativity, not specifically in art for a future career, but to create human beings with a creative spirit no matter what profession they work in.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
I feel every part of my working process is a challenge. The challenge comes from within, not really without. The challenge to managing a very small studio has been large, but at the same time it had its benefits.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
To have museums of the world decide to hold my work in their collections. Some 40 museums worldwide are caring for my work and displaying them to the general public. Museums and Public Art are the best ways to touch the spirit of the general public. To make inclusive work as well as exclusive is a great honour.
You enjoy travelling and are a regular traveller to India when did your connection with India begin?
My husband Graham and I started to visit India in winter 1986. It was the start of a lifelong love affair. Back in the days where there were not mobile phones and the only cars, were ambassador cars. It was the land of mysteries wonders, intelligence, inspiration to join wonderful people, wonderful food, & adventures. It is still on the top of my list, having travelled the world to many other places, we always come back to wanting to visit India, to see friends and to make new ones.
In what way have your visits to India influenced your work?
There are many ways that in India has influenced my work. The first way is the depth of spirit, although we are not specifically religious as a family, we appreciate the good of all religions. We therefore generally make our way to temples as places of calm, intelligence, and devotion. The sense of purity and spiritualism informs the essence of my work.
Secondly there are direct influences such as looking at fruits and vegetables in the market places, at the nature that is so prevalent in so many different way’s. As well as visiting temples in each town, we always make a way to the markets. And it is here that we can see the selection of fruits and vegetables that are available and of course I study all things natural wherever I go. I focus on form, detailed, lime, surfaces ,and colour. These consciously fed into my ceramics.
The third way that I’m influenced is by the beauty and purity of the art of and the craft of India. Chola bronzes are particularly interesting to me and the architecture from that period, especially at Badami and in that region. Also the giant monolith at Shravanabelagola In Karnataka is a place of spiritual fulfilment for me. The purity of line on this specific stone carving at this scale is always the standard to which I work.
And fourthly, it is the people Of India who inspire me. Other industries nearly always fascinating and it seems the more I think, I know about all the different systems and structure within society, the less I really know. Also the changes in lifestyles over the last 30 years are very apparent; very interesting to watch. I will never tire of visiting.
You recently where invited to the first Indian ceramic Triennale – how was this experience?
I was invited to demonstrate at the first ceramic Indian Triennale. The standard and scale of this event far surpassed my expectations. I took along with me some of my team, so that we could reproduce the studio environment that we working in London. We set up and worked with children, held master classes, and I gave a lecture as part of the symposium. The sense of energy, and the sense of promises for the future of ceramics in Indian society was tangible. I hope to be linked to this event next time, as it was a personal pleasure and a professional joy.
As an outsider I observe that Indian ceramics has a different starting point than English ceramics. We have a tradition of making fine studio domestic pottery, that’s more than 60 years old, making decorative rather sophisticated pots, for use at the table. In India pottery used at the table have
references with the Potters craft, and I’d say in mainstream lifestyle this genre in India doesn’t exist. The preference to use beautifully made, professionally made pottery in the kitchen and at the table, especially handmade by individual In fact the associations Domestic pottery seems to be a negative in India in this respect. I think it’s for this reason that the ceramic artists of India have upped themselves in scale and work on installations and sculptures as opposed to domestic studio pottery. There is a tradition of this of course in small circles in India, In Pondicherry and Delhi, and now popping up in many cities. But I’m talking about the mass perception of what ceramics is to the general public. This is my own point of view, and I feel in a way it bypasses a problem that we have in the west for ceramics being considered as fine art and sculpture. I am a person who always looks on the bright side, and that is very easy to do with Indian ceramics at the moment, I feel it has a future deeply entwined with the spiritualism of the country and with modern attitudes, with fine art, and I think it’s just a matter of time until a larger part of the population begin to appreciate and made pottery, individually designed, by characters within the pottery field.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I would have had many more children and keeping a family house. Or perhaps a nurse or teacher.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
What does the future hold for you?
Coming to the age of 60 soon, I feel I am going to really deepen the skill I have potential to use and enter a new phase with a new studio with room to spread to really make my full potential blossom.
Art Dealer: www.adriansassoon.com
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