Still by Anne Gibbs

Anne works in a quiet studio situated in a private garden in a rural village in South Wales. There is equanimity about the studio and its occupant. For Anne, it is a place to simply be. Anne maps a regular course between her home and studio, passing landscapes and road junctions that are both constant and ever changing. These changes inform Anne’s practice on a particular day and, over time, influence how bodies of work accumulate.

Landscape is important to Anne, be it on a miniature or grand scale. Textures, colours, contrasts, layers, these all inform her aesthetic. In years past Anne worked with a landscape company. She designed and created self-contained landscapes within defined boundaries, such as roundabouts or sidings. In years since, she has been commissioned to design public artworks. For Anne, the key focus has been the site-specific nature of such, be it designing traffic calming structures or contemporary features in Welsh chapels.

Supported by an Arts Council of Wales Creative Wales Award, Anne recently undertook a research visit to Japan. The Japanese design aesthetic made a startling impact on her. Both in terms of consolidating the nature of the work she was already making and in propelling her further along a particular creative course. She was again struck by particular landscapes and her physical perspective of them. Tree-lined hillsides appearing majestic in scale but harbouring miniature tableau more akin to bonsai. Use of colour struck a chord with Anne too. In a bright white interior with stainless steel fittings tiny punctuations of red rang out. These were simply wrapped sugar cubes, deliberately placed. Take-away platters of Japanese sushi and sweetmeats appealed to Anne in their seemingly exquisite detail and because the colours were so vivid. Clean green seaweed against fresh white rice, deep pink fish, saffron yellow detail. This Japanese experience set the colour palette for Anne’s current work. 

Anne is adept at considering things that she observes and experiences, be it objects, landscapes or personal exchanges. These observations and considerations manifest in her fine bone china sculptures and suggest myriad connotations. We bring our own experiences to bear when regarding Anne’s work too. These affect our viewing and what we take from the work in ways that Anne could not foresee. Once asked if she makes work for specific audiences, she replied ‘How can I, how can I know other peoples’ minds?’ Anne makes according to what she sees and feels in the world. Calmly or provocatively this may resonate with us. 

For Anne, this exhibition is a summary of many different things. Things people have given her, places she’s been, scenes she’s observed and things she’s collected along the way. It is a personal map of sorts and represents her journey so far. Anne brings us still life in quietly composed miniature form.

Introduction by Ceri Jones

Anne Gibbs has a lot to say, quietly and assuredly. Take a moment to stop and observe, take another to stop and consider. Then take the time to think about what you’ve seen and how it’s made you feel. Anne is very good at doing this. Anne notices the still points in our lives. She notices the ever present things and how they change. She recognises that the more we look at things, usually, the more there is to see and how rewarding that can be. Anne makes the time in her personal world to notice things in our collective world. She focuses in. The more she does so the bigger things get. Anne has so much to say about little things, things that all stack up to make our world as we know it.

And I don’t just mean objects, though Anne has plenty to say about how we use different objects in a variety of ways. I also mean experiential things, things felt, personal exchanges, cultural nuances. Anne keenly observes and considers such things and they manifest in her fine ceramic sculptures and suggest myriad connotations. We bring our own experiences to bear when we see Anne’s work too. This affects our viewing and what we take from the work in ways that Anne could not have foreseen. Anne was once asked if she makes work for specific audiences. ‘How can I,’ she replied, ‘how can I know other peoples’ minds?’ She makes according to what she sees and feels in the world. Calmly or provocatively this will resonate with us the viewer. 

I find Anne’s work delightfully playful and wittily dark. A smooth, brightly coloured surface is pierced by a sharp pin. Don’t delight for too long, reality awaits. In this way her work is alive with contrasts. There is obvious beauty in the bone china pieces she makes and there can be arresting harshness in the objects she sets with them. Her work seems delicate in form yet has a robust presence. There is joy in Anne’s work yet it is often subverted by a sombre visual reference. Shallow dishes invite interaction yet they are bound and thus prevent us from using them. Unexpected delight and unexpected pain. It is what we come to expect in the world. It is what, for me, Anne’s work explores and celebrates. How honest this exhibition is, her work really is shaped by her life’s experiences.

For Anne, this exhibition is a summary of many different things. Things people have given her, places she’s been, scenes she’s observed and things she’s collected along the way. It is a personal map of sorts and represents her journey thus far. Where next we might enquire? ‘Scale it up’, says Anne, ‘I wonder what would happen if I made things bigger.’ Then we would have an alternative landscape that we could wander through, and not only in our imaginations. I look forward to that. For Anne brings us still life in miniature form, and her still life allows us a moment of calm, a moment to stop and think.

In Anne Gibbs’ exhibition Still we have the last in our current series of The Language of Clay. Anna Noël’s figurative ceramics delighted us in their telling of tales. Micki Schloessingk’s wood fired pots have brought pleasure everyday in their use. The work of each of the artists displays skills and application honed by dedication and knowledge. Knowledge of an age-old medium with qualities that continue to endure. 

Exhibition at Mission Gallery

 

Touring Schedule

 

Ruthin Craft Centre

Denbinghshire

22 July - 24 September 2017

Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre

Cwmbran

7 October - 18 November 2017 

Mission Gallery

Swansea

21 January - 26 March 2017

Ceramic Gallery

Aberystwyth

8 April - 11 June 2017

Biography

 

Anne works in a quiet studio situated in a private garden in a rural village in South Wales. There is equanimity about the studio and its occupant, for Anne, it is a place to simply be. Anne maps a regular course between her home and studio, passing landscapes and road junctions that are both constant and ever changing. These changes inform Anne’s practice on a particular day and, over time, in uence how bodies of work accumulate.

Landscape is vitally important to Anne, be it on a miniature or grand scale. Textures, colours, contrasts, layers, these all inform her aesthetic. In years past Anne worked with a landscape company, designing and creating self-contained landscapes within defined boundaries, such as roundabouts or sidings. Commissioned for design input into public artworks, Anne has focused on the site-specific nature of work, from traffic calming features to ceramic tiles for Welsh chapels to QR code placement.

Anne’s recent research visit to Japan was supported by an Arts Council of Wales Creative Wales Award, received in 2015. Previous support by
the Arts Council of Wales had enabled research development periods and Wales Arts International supported Anne to take up her residency at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia in 2010.

Anne won the Gold Medal for Craft and Design at the National Eisteddfod in 2012. Since then her work has been bought by public collections at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and Carmarthen County Museum.

Ten years after graduating with a first class honours in Printmaking, Anne graduated from University of Wales Institute, Cardiff with her Masters Degree in Ceramics in 2004. She has been committed full-time to her ceramic practice since and her work has been presented in numerous exhibitions across the UK and North America. San Diego Arts Institute in the US most recently hosted her work in Sweet Gongs Vibrating, this came swiftly on the back of being selected for Award at the British Ceramics Biennial in Stoke-on-Trent and for Fragile? at National Museum Wales, Cardiff. Ruthin Craft Centre has represented Anne’s work at Collect, Saatchi Gallery, London and the Crafts Study Centre in Farnham selected her work for Setting the Scene: New Landscapes in Craft.

Anne’s work has been widely reviewed in publications including Craft Arts International, CCQ, Ceramic Review, Ceramics Art & Perception and New Directions in Ceramics by Jo Dahn. She is currently Associate tutor at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

For the first time in an exhibition Anne is showing drawings in Still. Drawing is an important element to her practice. Choosing to share this marks another subtle shift in direction for Anne. Still is a major solo exhibition that will be pivotal in mapping her creative journey.