Mary Johnson makes slip decorated earthenware ceramics at her studio in Derby using traditional craft skills applied in contemporary and unusual ways.
Mary has been working as a ceramic artist since completing a degree in Craft, 2009, making functional slip decorated earthenware. In 2012 she returned to Loughborough University to study an MA in ceramics in order to develop and expand her practice as an artist.
Whilst Mary continues to make a range of decorative functional slipware, she is also currently making earthenware vessels with a more contemporary and unusual twist.
This is argumentative slipware, exploring the idea that our current relationships to the land are far from the rural idyll often associated with country pottery. It is seeking to incorporate the reality of modern life into the fantasy of the good old days.
Mary's work is wheel-thrown from red clay, often with added materials to give a varied texture. It is then torn, damaged and re-assembled to make vessels which are patched together or piled in precarious stacks.
The pots are decorated with painted, glazed and Sgraffitto images drawn directly onto the work with a knife or paintbrush. Ideas are taken from sketches of back gardens, waste spaces and allotments. It is a very urban landscape where nature, people, history and modernity compete for space. Both ugly and beautiful.
These pots celebrate weeds, decayed roofing felt, insects, and rusted wheelbarrows as integral partners. Without them life would be infinitely dull and sterile.