In yesterday’s post, I mentioned our visit to the studio of the Welsh artist Meri Wells. That was last July, in the course of a weekend with Clive Hicks-Jenkins (pictured above with Meri) and his partner Peter Wakelin.
I like Meri’s description of her work:
The small ceramic figures come out of the hedge that I can see from the window. They march past reviving forgotten imagery of childhood stories and our cultural myths. I try to draw them in that first fleeting glimpse. They are best viewed in groups, from the perspective of personal history and the elemental associations with certain places.
The larger, often lifesize, sculptural pieces, are, I believe, a result of disillusionment with how we repeatedly fail to sustain a functional society. So I based these on forms which inhabit a parallel universe and often they are self portraits.
They are made from coiled, grogged clay and soda fired in a wood kiln to stoneware temperatures, using locally sourced slips and ash glazes.
Here, one of the beings that inspire her small ceramic pieces has just emerged from the roofless barn next to Meri’s 17th-century farmhouse. (O.K., actually that’s Rachel’s son A., tossing a frisbee to Clive’s dog Jack.)
I was drawn to the bird-headed figures, which reminded me of myself at certain kinds of parties
—though not, I hasten to add, the small and very convivial gathering we all made in Meri’s dining room as evening drew on, and Clive and Meri began to swap tales no less fantastic than the sculptures.
Clive seemed especially taken by this recent piece — no surprise, given his love of dogs and wolves.
Meri’s zoomorphic forms manage to seem simultaneously postmodern and prehistoric, psychological and totemic.
I had wanted to visit her studio and workshop ever since Clive first blogged about her back in 2010: “The life and art of Meri Wells.”
July was, however, a better time to visit than May. The sun took forever to set,
until the shadows grew very long in the tooth.
It felt very much like an Appalachian hollow, remote enough to be a world unto itself.