Martin Smith (1950 – )
Martin Smith was born in Essex; he studied at Bristol Polytechnic and later the Royal College of Art. A major retrospective exhibition was held at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam in 1996, and his works are included in public collections worldwide. He has taught at numerous art schools and I became a Professor at the Royal College of Art. Smith’s early works were large raku bowls which introduced a new dimension; his had none of the random effects of Japanese-inspired raku, but rather were precise and geometric. Since the 1980s Smith has continued to explore the geometrical possibilities offered by the vessel made of clay with forms developed from the circle, cylinder and cone. The works are formed from either press moulded or hand thrown pieces in red earthenware. The thick walls of the pieces take many weeks to dry, after which Smith uses saws, grinders and polishing machines with diamond pads to provide the precision of form and texture he requires. Metal and gold leaf are used to light up the interiors and act as a contrast to the engineered exteriors, and the bases are sometimes made of slate or sheet metal. Smith’s work is far removed from the spontaneity, plasticity and softness associated with clay; his is tough, hard edged, planned, measured and architectonic.
One of the three major types of pottery, the others being stoneware and porcelain. It is opaque, soft and porous unless covered completely with glaze. The firing temperatures can be low - 800ºC or high - 1200ºC, when it starts to vitrify, becoming stoneware.
Metal is a medium frequently used by artists to make art works - from sculpture to printmaking. Surfaces can display an array of colours and textures, and are capable of being polished to a high gloss; metal can be melted, cast, or fused, hammered into thin sheets, or drawn into wire.
A low fired, soft lead and borax glazed ware, originally made for the Japanese tea ceremony. It incorporates a special firing technique.