Location: Gallery FUMI, Second Floor, Hoxton Square, London N1 6NT
Early in 2011, the directors of Gallery Fumi, Valerio Capo and Sam Pratt, were discussing the possibility of putting on a show with the London designer Max Lamb. Lamb, a recent convert to the joys of ceramic, was particularly taken up at the time with the role of the workplace in a maker’s life. His native Cornwall, he explained, had been littered with pottery studios in the mid-twentieth century (and to an extent still is), and one of the best practitioners, Bernard Leach, had used his own studio to create a range of beautiful but utilitarian pieces that he called Standard Ware. Soon, due to Leach’s ability to turn out this work in decent quantities, it appeared in homes all over Britain. And if not the real thing, something very like it did.
What Max Lamb was really thinking about was how designers and artists can fulfill the potential of their own studios, making it into a space of personal expression and self-production – in either quantity or quality or both. Taking Leach’s own coinage of Standard Ware, Lamb suggested that an exhibition, under the heading Studio Ware, would be a very fine exhibition indeed.
Gallery FUMI went on to invite two other studios to join the event. In north London, they spoke to Glithero, who have completed several collaborations with the gallery. Tim Simpson and Sarah van Gameren, who make up Glithero, transform their studio with every project, turning it from a plaster workshop to a papier mache production line, depending on their needs.
In Germany, they approached Johannes Nagel, another familiar artist to them, who from a workspace in an apartment building in Halle, creates extraordinary groupings of highly individualistic ceramic pieces. His studio literally frames his practice, which at one point happens to coincide with that of Max Lamb: both use sand moulds to make pieces. Glithero and Lamb, on the other hand, share an unusual ability to take the exploration of individual materials and processes to their absolute limit in the pursuit of exciting design.
Once the show was agreed, the designers retired to their respective spaces to fine tune ideas they had previously considered but never brought to life. Setting the interior of the studio as the limit within which they could work, they have all achieved results that will now go on to have repercussions and respect far outside those four walls.