Paul Philp, who studied ceramics at Cardiff Art School, is a reputable and influential studio potter who has been making ceramics for over fifty years. Working from his home studio in Bath, Philp's work reflects his pursuit of modernising the classic vessel form through evolution and artistry. His vessels recall ancient artefacts, geological textures and evoke a sense of tranquility.
Philp slowly develops these robust, pared-back shapes using coiling, carving, modelling and other hand-building techniques. This is a slow process but one which allows the work to evolve naturally. He is free to create the forms of his imagination and is only constrained by the potter's wheel. He often combines a mixture of clays which because of the different shrinking ratios, causes cracking and fissures. Each of his vessels undergoes a patient process of multiple high-temperature firings but the length and number of firings and the finishing techniques differ because each piece is unique. Layers of slips, oxides and a very basic dry ash glaze are introduced at each stage and applied in varied ways to yield subtly eroded and spotted surfaces. Dipping, dry glazing over a raw or fired-on slip creates a great difference in the finished result. Ceramic colours are used only with restraint. He experiments with different forms of crude iron, often combined with tin oxide, which have resulted in a range of extraordinary deep red surfaces. These lengthy processes require huge amounts of concentration to create refined, classic forms with highly tactile surfaces and a strong individual identity.
"In my work, for much of the last 25 years, I have been aiming for a sense of classical serenity, to evoke a certain feeling of timelessness."
As well as developing his skills and ideas as a potter he has also dedicated much of his life to building, using traditional methods to work with reclaimed stone and other materials. Philp is interested in literature, ancient culture, Oriental art, geology and the natural world. He has contributed several articles to Ceramic Review International.
Philp's work features in the permanent collections of the Musée des Beaux Arts in Montréal, the Cité de la Céramique Sèvres in France, and the Musée Ariana in Geneva. He has had solo exhibitions in London, Paris, San Francisco and in Hanford, California. Philp's work has also appeared in art and ceramic fairs across Europe and the USA.