Once again we delve into the mysterious world of Amanda Popham’s ceramics. The exhibition at Jam Eton opens on May 12 and runs until June 14. Amanda has certainly pulled out the stops with this collection of 36 pieces, including sculpture, figurative jugs and teapots.
Familiar subjects like masks and double portraits reoccur but often with a new story attached. At her earlier exhibition, we overheard mutterings about references to Tolkein, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland and Mervyn Peake. Here, we have adult/child relationships, metamorphosis and more than a touch of theatrical drama.
I have previously drawn comparisons between Amanda’s ceramics and 19th century English satirical pottery by The Martin Brothers. Her “Curly Head teapot” has a removable hair style lid, other pieces have anthropomorphic cats, dogs and wolves.
In this exhibition, “Resting in a Bowl” appears to pay respect to Bernard Palissy’s French ceramics of the 1600’s.
And why I haven’t thought about a comparison with the traditional English Toby Jug before, I don’t know. Although very different in their final form, Amanda’s “Needle and Thread jug”, with pointed hat (forming the spout) and a handle down the back, makes many references to the beer jugs made by Staffordshire potters in the 1900’s.
We asked Amanda a few questions about the way she works:
What do you listen to while working?
Radio 4, too much. Music, or the birds singing in the garden, interrupted by my ridiculous Guinea Fowl screaming their heads off.
Do you work on one piece or several at a time?
I’m usually concentrating on one piece but there are always slabs ready and sometimes a piece has to stiffen up before I can do the next bit. Then either I start a new piece or sharpen up the modelling on something that’s drying. I don’t mix up making and decorating.
Do you use sketches to start a piece or make reference to previous sculptures or take it straight from your head?
Mainly out of my head, but I do draw all the time as a separate activity and I happily take ideas from all over the place.
Did you work in this style as a result of going to the Royal College of Art?
No, my style was already evident when I went to the RCA. It has become more courageous I hope. I feel lucky to be able to follow where my imagination leads me and make a living.
What are your favourite parts of the making process?
All of it. Except spraying the glaze which has to be done in a shed. The compressor is noisy, and in winter everything is cold.
Do you reference your eclectic collection directly when you’re working?
I don’t understand the question. Do you mean my work room is bewilderingly cluttered? You’re right.
Take a look at all of Amanda’s work.