Nicholas Lees British, b. 1967
"This work is about perception. I am interested in the ephemerality and uncertainty of perception. Our visual experience of reality is conditional upon light, space and body."
Nicholas Lees’ work has been exhibited widely in the UK and overseas and is held in private and public collections including York City Art Gallery, Westerwald Keramikmuseum in Germany and Royal Caribbean International.
He has won several awards including the Cersaie Prize at the Premio Faenza (Italy) in 2015, the National Sculpture Award at the Bluecoat Display Centre in Liverpool in 2010 and the Desmond Preston Prize for Excellence in Drawing at the RCA in 2012.
“This body of work originates in an attempt to manifest qualities of shadows as representations of the hinterland between two and three dimensions and between presence and absence, so making a material penumbra. These ideas are also informed by a lifetime of looking at the same stretch of Scottish coastline, bringing the realisation that the constant shift of tide, weather and light mean the experience of perception is forever transient.
The works are made from Parian, a porcelain clay developed in Stoke on Trent in the 19th century to imitate marble . The pieces are thickly thrown on the wheel, dried slowly and evenly before the fins are formed through lathe turning of the leather hard clay before firing. This making draws on precedents from the industrial production of electrical insulators to the use of throwing and lathe turning by Wedgwood since the 18th century. The introduction of colour is inspired by my works on paper with ink, in which the interaction between wet and dry is used as a parallel for movement and the uncertainty of perception. The use of soluble metal salts in colouring ceramic is an unusual technique. Solutions of metal salts are applied to the interior of the biscuit fired pieces. The pieces are filled with water and saturated before being dried in the kiln. As they dry, the colour moves through the form and concentrates onto the edges of the fins through the suction caused by faster evaporation from those edges. The pieces are then fired to their top temperature to vitrify them. There is some cold work with diamond abrasive to finish the surface and make a stable base.”
CONTEMPORARY CERAMICS: FORM THROUGH FIRECelebrating the very best of contemporary ceramic practice in the UK today 4 Sep - 23 Oct 2021Celebrating the very best of contemporary ceramic practice in the UK today, this major show at Cornwall's award-winning Porthminster Gallery in St Ives features fresh and experimental works by invited young, emerging, and new names to the gallery: Björk Haraldsdóttir; Ho Lai; Nicholas Lees; and Paul Wearing, alongside some of...