Spotlight On..Melanie Keevil

fullsizeoutput_857In my garden studio in Kings Heath I create abstract ceramic wall panels that are a personal response to landscape, coastline and rock formations. I hope not only to record what I see but also to give a sense of the place: the colours, light, surface texture, shape and pattern within the natural world.

fullsizeoutput_858To create one of my wall pieces there are many stages and it is quite a lengthy, time-consuming process. I begin with quick sketches, notes and detailed drawings of the location that has inspired me, whether it is a rocky beach in Cornwall or a sundrenched village in France.

Back in the studio I will work with a large slab of clay. With my drawings as a reference, I will draw and carve into the surface of the clay, creating lines, hollows and textures. I then create multiple layers with coloured slips and stains, reworking the surface again and again until I achieve the desired affect. The panel is then dried slowly between boards to keep it flat. The clay is then biscuit fired to 1000°c in my electric kiln.

fullsizeoutput_856Then the glazing process begins. I mix and create all my own glazes and will often use at least thirty different glazes in one piece of work. Each glaze needs three coats and has to be applied carefully, drying between each coat and avoiding touching the other glazes. After a stoneware firing to 1260°c, the ceramic is mounted on a wooden board with attachments for hanging. The aim is to produce a finished piece of art that has a unique three-dimensional surface, rich with varied colours and contrasting textures.

A by-product of experimenting with glazes has been my range of jewellery designs. As fullsizeoutput_855with my ceramic panels, the manufacturing process leads to a piece of jewellery that is totally unique.

I have been lucky enough to have always worked with clay and in the art world. On graduating from Buckinghamshire College in 1990, I worked as a print technician and then moved to London to start a career in exhibiting and selling my ceramic art. In 1993 I returned to Birmingham and set up studio at the Custard Factory. In 2009 I relocated to my own purpose built studio.
fullsizeoutput_859I have had several solo exhibitions in London and the Midlands and have participated in countless group exhibitions. My work has been sold through several galleries to customers both home and abroad.
I have produced commissions for private clients and a selection of my recent work is currently for sale at the Bevere Gallery in Worcestershire.

At various times I have been a member of the London Print Workshop, Birmingham Print Workshop and the RBSA. Other art related pursuits include teaching at Walsall College of Art and at the University of Minnesota’s English Art programme based at the University of Birmingham. I have also run clay workshops with nursery and primary school children at a local school.


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