Here is my statement about my work, how it comes about and my intentions in making it. It’s written in the first person, that is intentional, I do not want to mystify my work by pretending to be a third party:



I work predominantly with clay, making figures, objects and installations which are fired and sometimes glazed. I make drawings too, not just to work out what to make and how but as artwork in its own right.

Clay is a fantastically expressive medium if you understand how it behaves in different states and conditions. It’s my medium of choice, I work with its qualities and investigate it’s limitations. I am not averse to including other materials but most of the time it do not.

History, skill, pottery

Ceramics was invented in pre-history but that does not mean that working directly with your hands with a pliable material that preserves your actions is no longer relevant. Working with ceramics does not feel like a limited palette to me. Most of my work has now stopped looking like it but pottery is present in many of the techniques I use, it is even present in my avoidance of utilitarian forms. I generally create shell forms in clay, that is, I work out ways of making small structures that support themselves with their external shape just like pottery does. You need to acquire skill to be articulate with clay, that is an interesting and fruitful subject in itself.

Meaning and intent

In terms of meaning or intent, the work is broadly about what it means to be a man in the era following the rise of feminist ideas since my childhood. Recently my output has largely consisted of male figures. This is the result of a decision to try and reflect my interest in personal growth and gender politics. I do not intend to be evangelical or didactic with the subject, I mention it because it is the sea in which I swim.

Men and feminism

Feminism was the liberation movement that had the most direct influence on my own experience. The challenging of gender roles and expectations has rippled outwards to anyone that is receptive and changed them, it also forced reluctant transformations. Men have adapted during my lifetime and will have to continue to do so, much of the change has been prompted by feminism although it is rarely credited, often blamed. I may be gloriously out of step with, my time, my country and and many of my own gender but this is all part of the new diversity that is in the throes of coming to terms with its own nature.

Hybrid directions

My artwork is now a hybrid somewhere between contemporary sculpture and the tradition of figure making from the Staffordshire potteries with an undercurrent of identity politics. My tacit skills and my art education often pulled in opposite directions and left me with an enduring sense of myself as an artist and a sometime outsider, my later education through psycho-analysis gave me a drive to heal myself and possibly the society I live in. This aspect of my development has led me to start The Artists Space, a series of workshops, talks and individual sessions reflecting on the dilemmas of choosing to be an artist.


Simon Fell's Axisweb profile