Paul Philp has been a leading ceramicist for over forty years, making pots that look to be “discovered rather than made”.
In the 1970s, Philp was a visiting lecturer at the Central School of Art in London and at Bath School of Art, Corsham. He does not use coils or throwing, building each work by hand, a slow process, though one that allows a natural evolution. For twenty-five years he lived in the Welsh countryside, growing his own produce and cultivating gardens of rare plants, finding that a reclusive lifestyle helps him to concentrate on his practice.
He often combines a mixture of clays and sands which, because of different shrinking ratios, causes slight cracking and fissures. Ceramic colours are used only with restraint, tone is his palette. Experiments with different forms of crude iron, often combined with tin oxide, have resulted in a range of extraordinary deep red surfaces. Though all work is fired to around 1260 C, each piece in unique in the length and number of firings with finishing techniques differing. Many can be fired up to five times with slips and a dry ash glazes applied in varied ways. Dipping and dry glazing over a raw or fired-on slip creates vast differences in the finished result.
Philp is constantly developing his skills and ideas as a potter, including learning to build in traditional ways, and his works are in flux. He is interested in ancient cultures, oriental art objects, geological finds and the natural world and had written articles for the Ceramic Review.
"I have in mind rugged eroded surfaces, megaliths, fossils, ancient encrusted marbles and something of the quality of early Japanese ceramics - Shigaraki and Iga ware"