The Past in the Present
The abbey ruins have provided an exciting starting point for an exhibition of ceramics by two Somerset potters. The work of Elizabeth Raeburn and Rodney Lawrence is well known and their beautifully crafted pottery has been widely exhibited and is in museums across the world. It is also owned and much loved by many private collectors.
This exhibition brings the people and landscape of the abbey to life, whether in the imagined past or the real present. The artists have drawn inspiration from the abbey’s past visitors, pilgrims and residents, in addition to many aspects of the abbey today: carvings and gargoyles, utensils in the Abbot’s kitchen, ponds, orchard, trees and herb garden.
Rodney uses both the wheel and hand-building techniques for his stoneware pottery to frame his quirky and often humorously illustrated pots. Elizabeth’s ‘raku’ fired pots and plaques represent the abbey in a changing landscape, using coloured slips and a delicate and painterly style.
Having both studied studio pottery at Harrow School of Art, Elizabeth and Rodney moved to Somerset in the mid-1970s, establishing a successful pottery at West Pennard, making individual pieces and domestic ware.
For the last 30 years Elizabeth has pioneered raku pottery with coloured slip. She slowly constructs and builds her vessels, rather than throwing them on a wheel. Each piece represents many hours of work and includes both a ‘biscuit’ and final firing. She uses a range of clays, slips, wax resists, glazes and firing techniques to achieve different surface textures.
Rodney’s wheel thrown pottery often combines humorous decoration with function. He has exhibited widely and undertakes numerous commissions, which are often for commemorative or celebratory purposes. His unique style is instantly recognisable and frequently entertaining.