Whilst we were in Edinburgh we visited the studio of Sarah-Jane Selwood. This is something I have wanted to do since I purchased my first piece of hers in the mid-nineties. We were both a bit nervous. It was much like visiting a wine producer we love only not having a raft of incisive technical questions to ask; we know a lot about wine but not so much about ceramics.
When I looked over her dining room balcony and saw the beautiful, beautiful bowls she had my anxiety just melted away and I knew I could do ‘appreciative’ better than almost anyone. The first one that caught my eye was this (click to enlarge):
I had never seen a piece of hers in this colour. It looked and felt totally brilliant. Very sensual.
When I could tear myself away from this one I moved onto a terribly complex reconstruction which was really quite large:
The lines on it were totally pleasing and it had a real feeling of architectural, sculptural beauty. Totally, totally wonderful.
The final pieces that caught my eye were some, how can I put this? Less precise reconstructions:
They had a really organic, vivacious look and feel to them. Like all of her pieces their texture was completely lovely.
We talked ceramic details for a while, managed some questions about how she throws, reconstructs and fires them and, most importantly, told her how the beauty of her pieces delights, charms and compels us. She seemed charmed. We were charmed, too, she is a completely delightful person.
So why ‘under-appreciated’? Our impression is that, given the tiny amount she now makes, the constant progression of ideas she has and the skill she shows in making really difficult stuff, the prices you can buy them for are hilariously low. For a bowl the size of the white one in the second picture someone like Rupert Spira would charge four or five times the price. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rupert Spira’s work, and don’t think his prices are outrageous, it is just that Sarah-Jane’s work is a huge bargain. I strongly suggest you go to The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh, Contemporary Applied Arts or the Contemporary Ceramics Gallery (both in London) and snap up what you can of hers before people realise how good she is.
I should add that Sarah-Jane will be at the Collect art fair in London this May, we saw the stuff she will be bringing and it is great. There will be many other people whose work is worth seeing at the fair. Details of the event are here.