‘A Living Line’ reflects an intimate, meditative approach to making, with a focus on color, tone and texture. Explorations in wood, textile and clay reveal subtle relationships between each of the artist-makers and their personal sources of inspiration. Deep connections to place and landscape emerge in the works in clay by ceramicist Nancy Fuller and the rich colours of the Cairngorms are vividly evoked in the textile pieces by Hayley McCrirrick. Family heritage guides the ceramic practice of Luke Eastop and Takahashi McGil, which in turn, relates to the dual cultural influences of Nancy Fuller. The makers celebrate traditional techniques whilst evolving their material knowledge to create a timeless, yet contemporary narrative.
Hayley McCrirrick’s intuitive approach has manifested in a collection of textile works centred around color and furthering her exploration into layered compositions. Through working with natural saturated hues and traditional craft techniques to inform her work on cloth and paper, her practice evokes a sense of place, irrelevant to time. In August 2022, McCrirrick was invited by Make Hauser & Wirth to be the first artist-maker in residence in Braemar, Scotland. During this time, her initial research focused on creating a library of color swatches, later translated into dye. The works developed for the exhibition take inspiration from her experiences in the Cairngorms, layering various dyes on cloth to replicate the way that colors are built up within the landscape. Capturing a sense of movement, hand-dyed linen cloths are framed in fumed Scottish oak, with a signature work referencing the illuminous colors found in the River Dee.
Paying attention to subtle, fleeting moments speaks to an interest shared by Nancy Fuller, whose vessels act as holding spaces for contemplation, a way of reconnecting to ourselves and in turn, the Earth. Transplanting knowledge and techniques originating in ancient agricultural Taiwanese communities to a croft in Aberdeenshire, she creates traditional forms which inherently talk of a specific landscape, a time of year and herself, the maker. The intrigue of the work is in the surface effects that result from the interplay of the wood ash and mineral inclusions within the clay. For Fuller, the firing process is a form of affirmation — ‘You act, and the fire responds, acknowledging your existence in the world.’ Taking risks, and the discoveries made in doing so, is where the beauty of making wood-fired ceramics lies. The spatial awareness of the pots that comes through making, carrying and firing them gives them an almost human dimension. Coiling gives softer outlines, which change further during the firing process, helping Fuller achieve the natural quality she is looking for. Such profound intimacy between the vessel and the maker is evident within each form through thousands of small hand movements. It is her intention that their qualities are discovered and rediscovered by those encountering them, so they become timeless works of art.
For Takahashi McGil, beauty does not mean perfection. On the contrary, their forms in wood often incorporate knots, voids and cracks, results of the drying process. At an intersection of different cultures, Takahashi McGil’s dual heritage celebrates both the refined and functional objects that exemplify the infinite possibilities of one material. Together they plane, chisel, turn, wax and lacquer with great precision and attention to detail. Their finished pieces balance silky wood finishes in the palest sycamore through to dark, scorched Douglas fir with a urushi finish. The process is a slow one, involving hours spent adding layers of lacquer and wiping down, because, as McGil notes, ‘We like to show the grain of everything we make.’ Born in South Africa and with a father who was a self-taught cabinetmaker, Mark McGilvray has been surrounded by wood as far back as he can remember. Kaori Takahashi — who moved from Japan to the UK to study — discovered her adoration for the material later in life. Since then, their creations have embodied a collaborative process, made from hardwoods sourced locally and through a combination of Japanese and Western techniques, traditions and tools.
Such notions of history also resonate with third-generation ceramicist, Luke Eastop, whose work demonstrates the beauty of this inherited influence combined with his own individual style. Eastop grew up surrounded by pots. Photographs exist of him as a child sitting on a lawn with two ‘penguin-shaped’ vases that his late grandfather — the respected ceramicist Geoffrey Eastop — created in the 1980s. Deep-rooted family connections to clay have been present throughout Eastop’s life, but his journey to ceramics remains one that is uniquely his own. Exploring form and material though systematic processes, Eastop’s approach is an extension of previous work involving experimental design, typography, map-making and an interest in mathematics. From the outset, he has questioned how to make things matte and keep the balance between the material, texture and quality, whilst still retaining functionality. He explains, ‘The interesting thing is that the successful results combined simple geometric ideas and some other kind of human non-logical intervention. That was the key moment I realized each piece needs something surprising about it. It should not all add up perfectly.’
Nancy Fuller is Taiwanese by birth and was raised in Scotland. After training as a printmaker, she discovered wood-fired ceramics, drawn to the elemental nature and beauty of the process. She creates traditional moon jar forms which are then wood-fired in an anagama kiln, authentically dug out from the mountainside. The making process, unchanged for centuries, imbues the work with a timeless quality. Nancy Fuller’s has exhibited both in the UK and globally, including TEN, Edinburgh, Scotland, (2021) and Princes Wharf One, Tasmania, Australia, (2019). In the spring and summer of 2022, she undertook a residency with Township 10 in North Carolina, USA.
Hayley McCrirrick is an artist based in Selkirk, on the Scottish Borders. Working with textiles and in response to her rural surroundings, she seeks to create work which feels grounded and intrinsically linked to the landscape. In an area known for its textiles industry, her grandparents both worked in the weaving mills, with her grandfather’s experience in one of the dye houses sparking her early interest in textiles. McCrirrick studied textiles at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, specializing in print. In 2018, Hayley McCrirrick established her studio and since then has shown work in London, Edinburgh and Paris, also completing various commercial and private commissions in the UK and USA.
Takahashi McGil are an artistic duo comprised of husband and wife, Mark McGilvray and Kaori Takahashi, based in Cockington, Devon. Combining ancient Japanese traditions honed in Tokyo, with Western techniques and hand tools, the pair work collaboratively; McGilvray works on the shape and form, while Takahashi carves the surface, always celebrating the imperfections inherent in the materials used. In 2018, they spent the summer in Japan, where they were introduced to urushi lacquering, which originates as tree sap and makes objects waterproof as well as adding strength. The urushi lacquering process demands a meticulous approach, with the necessity of applying several layers of lacquer, as well as the perfect, humid temperature, for the lacquer to dry.
Luke Eastop is a ceramicist based in Margate, Kent. He worked as an artist and designer before taking up ceramics in the studio of his late grandfather, the renowned potter, Geoffrey Eastop. His pieces today are consistent, elegant forms that are often displayed together in groupings. The silhouettes created by the different pieces alongside one another echo his long-standing fascination with typography, loosely mimicking the shapes of words. Driven by a continuous investigation into the boundaries of form, Eastop’s practice remains committed to scaling the potential of his pieces.
Images (from left to right): Hayley McCrirrick, Punchbowl, 2022. Photo: Hayley McCrirrick; Takahashi McGil, Musubi Kame Vessel II, 2022. Photo: Gareth Hacker; Nancy Fuller, Fluted Tableware, 2022. Photo: Nancy Fuller; Luke Eastop, Studio view, 2022. Photo: Luke Eastop