Richard Slee was born in 1946 grew up in Carlisle and spent a year at the art college there before moving to London where he studies ceramics at Central School of Art and design from 1965-70 and worked as a ceramics technician from 1971-73.
His archive and personal collection of photographs and souvenirs and his enthusiasm for the Krazy Kat cartoons of George Herriman and Disney have provided inspiration for his brightly coloured, narrative ceramic works. For example, his Toby Jug series subverts this most traditional of English ceramic icons whilst he has incorporated cartoon figurines into his work. His aim is to tell stories through his work and allow the viewer to create their own tales; sometimes moving away from pure ceramics as in his 2007 works where small figures lurk in the dense bristles of yard-brooms creating mysterious and compelling miniature landscapes. But most of his work relates to the domestic realm and is on a domestic scale although never utilitarian and he has crossed the divide form the world of crafts to that of fine art, notably in his ceramic sculpture ‘Cold Frames’ for the Goodwood Sculpture Park in 2000.
As a craftsman he has continually worked on developing the technical side of his work and a period as a student at the Royal College of Art, London from 1986-1988 enabled him to experiment and create a clay body that was more responsive to his needs. Apart from a few press-moulding experiments in the 1990s, he hand builds his brightly glazed earthenware pieces. He has taught at Camberwell College of since 990 and was made a Professor there in 1992.
Slee’s work has been exhibited world-wide and is in many public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto and the V&A Museum, London.
Slee’s facility with clay, his dazzling use of glazes and his visually inspired creations have led him to be described as the ‘Grand Wizard of Ceramics’ by Oliver Watson, Keeper of Ceramics at the V&A, London. He won the Jerwood Prize for Ceramics in 2002.