Alison Britton


39.5 x 23 x 29 cm


Alison Britton was part of one of the most influential groups of students who came out of the Royal College of Art during the 1970s. Her work has continued to challenge the notion of ceramics having a purely functional property, instead, blurring the line between art and craft as well as ceramic and sculpture.

Though highly sculptural the context of her work always revolves around the vessel. The decorative surfaces of her angular slab-built pots, rather than glazed in the traditional sense, have the gestural painted decoration applied to the slabs before construction so that the surfaces appear more like a painted canvas than a glazed pot.

There are elements of the human form in the work too. Not only in the jug-eared handles of her platters or the jaunty arms of some of her pots but in their uneasy stances; their craning necks or lopsided shoulders making them studies in the awkwardness of human beings for which clay acts as such a wonderful simulacrum. Not for her symmetrical forms and mathematical precision of some of the other pots in this show,  but intuitive ‘flicks, squirts and slips.’

‘An unfired pot is naked; its needs something happening to it like a body needs a dress,’ she says,  challenging herself to make the painting on a pot in an unpremeditated fashion, less like patterning and more like an abstract painting in which the canvas is slabs of clay.

Her work can be seen in major public and private collections worldwide, including the V&A, London; Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, Holland; Australian National Gallery, Canberra; National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; and Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. She taught MA and research students at the Royal College of Art in London for over three decades and was a Senior Tutor for Ceramics and Glass. In 1990 she was awarded an OBE.