Vocation : Jack Doherty
Maud & Mabel are honoured to present Vocation - a solo exhibition of works by revered studio potter Jack Doherty. Using one clay body, one colouring mineral and one single firing technique, this exhibition displays the breadth of surface texture and complexities of rich colour Doherty is able to create. Here, pale and ethereal vessels sit alongside pieces of intense depth and darkness, as the artist welcomes in a moment of change from other bodies of work.
Through this singleness of process, Doherty has found a way of making that allows him to speak of the stories that are important to him. Both his Keeper and Guardian vessels on display have their roots in a universal history - drawing inspiration from prehistoric pots and iron age vessels. Romantic in their conceptualisation, Doherty’s Keeper vessels with their tiny ‘almost totally impractical’ lids, are for him transporters and retainers of secrets and messages - “it’s an idea, a thought, a concept - it's something we want to keep secure, putting something away and sealing it safe”. The Guardians then, with their weight and substantial form, are the protectors of this.
Both describe how Doherty feels and thinks about function - viewing his works as domestic-related objects rather than utilitarian. Their vocation lies in connecting us to the ways in which we have lived, the way we have used things and the ideas behind that - notions of community; safe-keeping; storage; preservation and protection all suffuse together.
Doherty has often referred to his works as ‘survivors’. Their relatively savage entry into the world, in which thin porcelain vessels are subject to one high temperature firing then cooled quickly when sprayed with water and sodium, is never without risks. The bodies, in layering these signs and markings of the extreme atmosphere within, call to mind a more personal history, as well as the universal one Doherty calls on through his explorations of form. Described by Simon Olding as a ‘mariner’ potter, Doherty’s familial maritime past and his connections to a very human, elemental survival underpins much of his practise, and is heavily imbued once more in this impactful collection.
With works enshrined in museum collections of both national and international significance, Doherty’s professional experience has also seen a prolific engagement in raising the profile of contemporary ceramics, as a fellow of the Craft Potters Association of Great Britain and a founding member of the organising committee at Ceramic Art London.
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