Telling Tales by Anna Noël
Anna Noël’s figurative ceramics capture moments of interaction between animals and between people and animals. These enigmatic sculptures portray a seeming simplicity, yet they evoke intrigue that is distinctive of Anna’s practice.
Anna Noël’s work is motivated by narrative. We all enjoy a good story, there is pleasure to be shared in the telling and receiving of stories. Anna conjures hers out of clay. From early childhood to the present day, Anna’s creative instincts are imbued with tale telling. The moments she captures in her ceramic forms might continue to be … ‘they all lived happily ever after,’ or they might all come to a sticky end. The narrative is up to us.
Working from her studio on the Gower peninsula in south Wales, the 17th century farmhouse has long been familial and creative home for Anna. At the side of one of the barns, Anna’s studio looks out into woodland.
Animals have fascinated Anna since childhood and their imagery fuels her imagination. Animals in stories and folklore often symbolise complexities of childhood, and of adulthood. Anna is interested in how the animal form can express emotion, spirituality and ways of seeing the world. Her fascination with storytelling and perceptions of narrative lead her to include text in some of her work. Excerpts from poems, riddles and rhymes are often etched or pressed into her work using lead type.
Simplicity of form inspires Anna, such as that found in ancient sculptures and folk art. Her sculptures of animals and of people with animals share both a simplicity and a strong definition of form.
Hand-built in fine stoneware, Anna uses a variety of construction methods for her pieces. Press moulded bases create an environment for the animals and figures and, often, a background for text. Anna manipulates slabs of clay from the inside to form the different elements of animals and figures. These, and sometimes the moulded plinths, are then modelled together and finished using earthenware glazes, brushed slips and oxides.
Having graduated from Bath Academy of Art with a first class honours degree in ceramics, Anna went on to undertake a Masters in Ceramics at the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1991. Anna has worked full-time in her ceramic practice since. Her work is represented in several public collections including Aberystwyth Ceramic Collection, Shipley Ceramic Collection, and the Clay Centre collection in Philadelphia, U.S.
As a major solo exhibition, Telling Tales affords an opportunity to see Anna’s work in its own realm. Telling Tales is a chance for us to explore her creative world, a world where, maybe, anything seems possible.