ceramics | imagined corners | material woman





about elspeth owen








about me

I live and work in Grantchester near Cambridge - my workshop is the former village cricket pavilion. My most familiar material is clay and my ceramic work has been widely shown in Britain and in Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and USA.

A book about my pots, coming round again (1998), designed in collaboration with my nephew, Webster Wickham, contains essays which call my ceramic work ‘odd...yet enjoyable, exhilarating, and contemplative’ (Gillian Beer), ‘more anarchic and rougher’ (Tanya Harrod) and ‘a lyrical sabotage of the conventional’ (Edmund de Waal).

As a young woman I studied history at Oxford University and worked as an academic, a social worker and a teacher before I started going to pottery evening classes in the mid seventies. In place of an art school training I taught on the legendary Open University course Art and Environment. I have been a feminist since the time when it was called being a member of the Women's Liberation Movement and a peace protester since the Aldermarston Marches and Greenham Common.

Inspired in part by the Women’s Peace Camp at Greenham, I have increasingly moved aside from making finished objects and into work where the passage of time, the live process, is a key element. (For more about this aspect of my work see imagined corners and material woman sections of the site.)

Tender, direct, resilient, with a thin skin: that is how I think my work may touch you. To sustain working in this way means my remaining open to the emotions and sensations of an ordinary life. I keep slipping between categories - life, art, therapy, play, ritual - and find that I’m usually in more than one at a time, and with something up my sleeve!

My work can be seen in the following Public collections:

Victoria and Albert Museum London   Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge   University of Wales at Aberystwyth   Kunstmuseum Hamburg Germany   Leeds City Art Gallery   Cleveland Studio Pottery Collection   Bolton City Art Gallery   Buckinghamshire Museum   Dean Clough Contemporary Art Halifax   Hawkes Bay Museum New Zealand   Deidesheim Ceramics Museum Germany   Paisley Museum   Aberdeen Art Gallery   BA at Gatwick