John Pollex British, b. 1941
New Collection: 2020
'This new collection of work has been germinating with me for some time. I have always seen myself as primarily a painter on pots with the use of vibrant coloured slips.
'My interest in painting on pots stems from an amazing exhibition of the late Howard Hodgkins’s work at the Whitechapel Gallery in the mid eighties. This led me on to looking at the paintings of other abstract painters - Hans Hofmann, Patrick Heron, Sandra Blow and Mark Rothko to name a few.
'The challenge to create a colourful abstract image is exciting and like a journey into the unknown. I employ various methods of mark making using brushes, stamps, hacksaw blades and pins to cut into the clay.
'This new collection with its matte finish now reveals clearly every mark and brush stoke I make to complete the finished image.'
John Pollex, 2020
John Pollex has carved out a unique niche in the world of studio pottery. During the 70s and early 80s he established himself as a respected maker of traditional Slipware, before his work took a dramatic turn. In 1981 he was invited to take part in a lecture tour of New Zealand with the contemporary American ceramist Don Reitz. The bold use of colour in the work of Reitz was exciting compared to the muted tones of celadons, tenmokus and honey glazes back in Britain; consequently he became more interested in the colourful work being produced by potters in the USA.
In 1984 Pollex decided to change direction. Referring to the work of painters such as Sir Howard Hodgkin, Robert Natkin, Patrick Heron and Ben Nicholson, Pollex used his knowledge and understanding of the application of slips (liquid clay) to develop a completely different style of working. He dispensed with slip trailers in favour of paintbrushes and sponges and more recently plastic spatulas, intensely coloured earthenware slips are applied in a free and painterly abstract manner. The change seems to have been clean and dramatic and appears to owe nothing to the slipware of before. Apart from his regard for the aforementioned painters, Pollex’s work often includes references to his interest in Zen Buddhism, in particular the immediacy of brush strokes in Zen calligraphy. Pollex is often asked why he never paints in the conventional manner.
He says that he has always been a potter who enjoys what he does and he still feels there is much more to discover in the world of ceramics.
John Pollex studied at Sir John Cass in Whitechapel from 1966-68; he then went on to become Technician at Harrow College of Art during 1968-70. After Harrow he became assistant to Colin Pearson until 1971. He moved to Plymouth in the autumn of 1971.
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