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David Roberts
Raku Ceramics

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Magnificent Minimalism

North Wales Potters' Newsletter, January 1998

There is no doubt about it, David Roberts' raku is impressive. Especially when you see a body of the work together, as we did in his showroom during his 'Open Studio 1997'. Dave and his wife, Jan, made us welcome as we drank wine and chatted about the work with the remnants of the smell of sawdust drifting up from the kiln area below.

The pots have changed considerably over the years from the wide bellied bottles to the more natural, organic forms he is making now. There is no longer a need for glaze on the pieces, the decoration coming from the etched surfaces and the subtle burnished smoke marks impregnated into the clay. There are still vessel orientated pots - elegant, elongated bottle forms that sit happily alongside the balanced, rock like bowls resting on their smooth ceramic stone plinths.  The physical size of much of his work has become smaller but the impression is still one of large raku pieces. Although monumental might be overstating it, they do have a feel of great mass and volume.

David's workshop, like his work, has become simpler, all tools, equipment and clutter been removed, leaving a plain open space with a table, a fireplace and a small pile of inspirational pebbles on the mantelpiece. His work has been pared down to its simplest, but, like the minimalist music of Reich or Riley, becoming subtly complex the more you concentrate. Rhythms of undulating patterns punctuated by random, intersecting smoke lines resonate with the landscape viewed through his studio window.

Dave has followed a single minded direction in his work over the years, making no compromises to the fashions of the market place. This kind of commitment results in a certain confidence and strength in his work, reassuring to the viewer and his buyers alike.

David Roberts' next exhibition is at the Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh in January 1998 and if you get the chance go and see it. It is the first major showing of his black raku vessels in which he contrasts semi burnished patterns with eroded, grogged black surfaces. A show which, I'm sure, will confirm David Roberts as one of the UK's most innovative and exciting makers.

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