Studio Visit: Ceramist Jonathan Wade
May, 2017 | Glasgow, UK
I discovered Jonathan’s work by accident when, about four years ago, I walked past a window display on Battersea Bridge Road and a bright orange sculpture entitled “Mask” caught my eyes. I thought it was a stone or wood carving or a casting, but after a closer look, to my surprise, it was ceramic.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when one hears the word ceramic? Teapots? Cups? Vases? Forget those! When you see the work of Jonathan Wade, a ceramist based in Glasgow, his ceramics are a surprise. The impression is not immediate and it takes a little time to grasp, but it doesn’t take long to be attracted to or intrigued by it. One could say that Jonathan’s work is contemporary sculpture because the ideas behind it are way beyond traditional. Bizarre shapes, bright, outstanding colours, spiky and biscuit-like textures raise lots of questions. It is one of those times when the observer is absorbed by the work and longs to know what it means. Despite some very unusual perspectives in ceramics and some quite strange shapes, Jonathan’s work doesn’t feel weird or bizarre just for the sake of it, which can often happen in contemporary art.
Jonathan says he is inspired by unusual forms of nature, such as tumours on a tree, or the surface of moss. He also has his own term – ‘unplanned architecture’ – which he uses to describe things like dovecotes made from the cheapest materials. These natural and architectural forms are not particularly beautiful, one might even argue they are ugly, but it is their ugliness or their natural state and the non-intervention of human intelligence that attracts and inspires him.
"I don't feel I am on a mission to explain things to people. I see my role as a translator of my experience."
"I can't imagine living without some artistic involvement. I think humans are naturally creative. It's definitely instinctive to the human condition."
"I don't expect people to agree with everything or to like everything. That is not important. The important thing is to provoke thoughts. That can be very powerful."