For over thirty years Fred Gatley has been carefully incorporating found materials within his pieces, many of these introduced into the clay bodies themselves. Sands, silts, muds, brick fragments, stones and rusting iron have all been used, combined with drift woods and even waste copper scraps, all of these bringing to the work their own story and location.
In ‘The Rabley Series’ Fred has responded to the landscape and environment of Rabley Home Farm, a working arable farm set in the ancient Wiltshire downs. The landscape throws up echoes of its history including fragments from the Neolithic, Iron and Roman ages together with the everyday chips of a contemporary working farm.
All the ceramics made for this exhibition contain varying amounts of material collected from the farm over the past year or so. The various flecks and inclusions visible in the ceramic body include, stones, sand, rust, mud and brick fragments. The metal bases are fabricated from copper reclaimed from the fine copper windings taken from within a large decommissioned electrical pump-motor donated by Andrew Ainslie. The bronze/copper bases were themselves cast into wooden moulds fashioned from wood salvaged from the Rabley estate. The tiny silver feet also came from Rabley in the form of scrap silver donated by Meryl Ainslie at the outset of the project.
Each piece is made, to achieve a delicate balance of form, scale, structure and texture; producing work that has an understated visual richness set against a feeling of quiet simplicity.
Nothing is finished
And nothing is perfect
Quote from ‘Wabi Sabi Simple’ by Richard F Powell. ‘Wabi sabi’ is an ancient Japanese aesthetic that values the imperfect, the handmade and the simple.
Fred Gatley, born in Warrington in 1956, works from his studio in Greenwich, London. Fred studied Ceramics at Bristol Polytechnic graduating in 1978, after this he moved to London where he began work in the Sir John Cass Department of Art. From 1980 to 2017 he worked within the ‘Cass’ teaching on their undergraduate and post-graduate 3D courses including Art, Architecture, Product, Jewellery and 3D Design. In 1998 Fred completed an MA by Project ‘Researching the Grinding and Polishing of High-Fired Ceramics’ at London Guildhall University and was awarded an MPhil at London Metropolitan University in 2006.
Fred Gatley’s ‘The Rabley Series’ is showing at Rabley Gallery from 17 March – 28 April 2018 alongside Katherine Jones’ ‘The Precious Hours’ prints and works on paper produced during her residency at Rabley.