Gillian Lowndes was one of the ceramic world’s most daring, radical and original artists of the post-war generation. Working during a period when the majority of practitioners of the medium were concerned with the functional and decorative, Lowndes’ sculptures stand apart through their transgression of the ceramic conventions of the time. Her work was often a result of responding to her immediate environment; in 1970 she moved to Nigeria for eighteen months and this period prompted a major turning point in her career as she witnessed for the first time the combination of different materials in single objects. The Brick Bag series, a watershed moment in her career in the early 1980’s, was the result of witnessing the overflowing piles of plastic bin liners that accumulated in London during the waste collectors’ strike between 1978 and 1979.
Lowndes operated on the border territory between fine art and craft, and is renowned for her sensitive investigations of material and process, of serendipity and sculptural form. Pigeonholed by the craft establishment of the time, her work predated the expanded ceramics field of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, while her pioneering transformation of clay and found objects places her firmly in the language and discourse of sculpture, a critical context that remained closed to her in her lifetime. The exhibition at The Sunday Painter will be the largest presentation of her work in London for twenty years and will aim to demonstrate her enduring legacy and influence upon the shifts ceramic practice has undergone.
Gillian Lowndes, 1936–2010. Born West kirby, Merseyside. Studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, 1955-58, and Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, 1958-60. Her work is in numerous international collections, including Bristol Museum Art Gallery, Bristol, British Council, London, Crafts Council, London, Henry Rothschild Collection, Landesmuseum, Stuttgart, Newark Museum, USA, The Anthony Shaw Collection/York Museums Trust, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
The Sunday Painter would like to thank Jenny Lowndes and The Anthony Shaw Collection/York Museums Trust for all their generous assistance with the exhibition, and Aaron Angell for his essay written for the exhibition.