Alasdair Macdonell shares both a studio, and an interest in primitive arts and antiquities with his wife Sally in Bath, Somerset. Using cobalt, copper and iron oxide under stoneware glazes, he makes a range of forms centred on faces. Much of his work is wall hanging.
“My Father was an architect and my two sisters and I had a lot of exposure to the arts and crafts, particularly old buildings! I remember becoming aware of the creative effects of fire when a neighbours wooden garage containing an ancient ash framed van caught fire. When extinguished there stood a fascinating labyrinth of standing charcoal. When I first started working with clay at college it was the transformation of materials during firing that held me in thrall – it still does. As an art teacher I began working with clay in the classroom. The necessity of devising modelling and handbuilding projects, and the uninhibited and energetic originality shown by my pupils opened my eyes to the potential of the material as an expressive and figurative medium. After 4 years I returned to college to work with clay as my main subject for a Bachelor of Education degree, becoming specialist ceramics teacher, head of department and occasional college lecturer. My confidence in my own work grew and I have been a full time ceramicist since 1992.”
“As a 6 year old visiting the Egyptian rooms in the British Museum I was overwhelmed by the textures, patterns and sinister esoteric nature of the mummified remains. I remain interested in disguise and concealment as expressed in primitive cultures and the way that the damage found in archaeological artefacts speaks of their history. My fascination with the human face has made it an obvious choice as a focus for my ideas, though I am conscious of how difficult it is to avoid clichés and pastiche. Yet it is the ubiquity of images of the face throughout the history of humankind that draws me to them.”
Neil MacDonell 2015