Richard SleeSwat, 2008
18 1/4 x 3 3/4 x 3/8 in
As one of Britain’s most important contemporary ceramic artists, Slee’s work attempts to challenge every conventional notion in ceramic art, transcending its utilitarian roots, whilst also sidestepping the self-indulgent aspects of the studio tradition that became ubiquitous in the late twentieth century. His works lie in contemporary debate and reference the current positioning of material specializations within visual creativity. Merging humour and irony with profound technical ability, Slee challenges the conventions of the studio pottery tradition, transcending its utilitarian roots and paving the way for a new genre of ceramic art. In Slee’s Swat series, a brightly coloured plastic swat is combined with lustre glazed ceramic. The metallic glaze imparts the appearance of silver or gold onto pottery and has traditionally been used in ceramic design to enhance the surface of ornamental decoration. In Swat, the lustre glazed ceramic is comically insinuating a squashed fly. Works from the Swat series were exhibited in Slee’s 2009 solo exhibition From Utility to Futility at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and a Swat piece is held in their collection.