profile

Liz Mathews working on 'The moment that holds you', her latest artist's film setting poems by Jeremy Hooker.  Photo by Frances Bingham.
Liz with visitors to the turnthepage2016 artists’ book fair. Photo by Frances Bingham.
Liz Mathews' potter's mark and artist's signature

Liz Mathews' work is in major public collections including the British Library, the Poetry Library and the National Library of Scotland. Her monumental artist's book Thames to Dunkirk was a key feature in the British Library's exhibition for the London 2012 Festival Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands, alongside manuscripts by Chaucer, Blake and Virginia Woolf. This great honour was highlighted in the Financial Times, when reviewer Genevieve Fox placed Thames to Dunkirk in the context of these great treasures of our heritage: ‘By using a piece of driftwood from the Thames as a pen, Liz Mathews’ work embodies this creative continuum.'

Artist's statement  I began with clay and poetry, in 1986. Now, I work in clay, handmade paper and driftwood, but my primary structural medium is still words. As a lettering artist, I work with fragments of text or a flow of words, rather as a composer sets poetry to music, bringing together thought, word and form. For me, this is a way to examine how the light shows through, how materials and processes are given life and significance by thought and words - a way to read between the lines and get at the meaning within, revealing both the character of the material and the transformative process: the clay's original wet soft malleable state and the action of the fire in the kiln, the paper's light-filtering qualities and the ink's determination. The earth/clay/body link is fundamental in my work: our place within the landscape, the elements, the seasons, time - our environment and our history.  Each text inspires a different form, or physical means of expression: sometimes the words will suggest to me the containment of the vessel, the earthy embodiment of clay, the cosmic transfiguration of the fire, the circling flow of the throwing process. Other texts suggest the light-bearing transparencies of paper, the spiralling sequence of the pages of an artist's book, or perhaps the dual-natured transitional form of water-carved driftwood, holding the letters within the grain, waiting to be revealed. Each work is a one-off; for me there's always an element of performing the text in the making process, in collaboration with the writer or poet. I use an unconventional lot of mark-making tools, including wooden clothes-pegs, chopsticks, slate shards, feather quills - and my favourite lettering 'pen' is a little driftwood stick picked up on a beach of the Thames.

Potters’ Yard house portraits is Liz’s website for her house portraits in clay, and other low relief clay sculptures; there’s a gallery of many commissions and full details of the easy commissioning process.

Solo exhibitions include:
Hot ice and wondrous strange snow at The Millennium Library in The Forum, Norwich, June 2016
Turn at Enitharmon Press, London WC1, January/February 2016
Paper Wings at Enitharmon Press, London WC1, September to October 2014
light wells at the London Centre for Psychotherapy, April to September 2012
Riversongs in winter at Woolfson & Tay December 2011
Watermark at the Icehouse Gallery in Holland Park May 2011
The Dunkirk Project, an online interactive installation from 2010 onwards
Journey from Winter at London's Southbank Centre April to June 2008
(including gallery talks in the SBC's Literature & Spoken Word season)
inner space at the.gallery@oxo on the Southbank in 2001
Timepieces at Whitechapel Pottery for the Millennium 1999-2000
Continuous Cities at the Drill Hall in Bloomsbury in 1998
Rus in Urbe at Gabriel's Wharf on the Southbank in 1995
A Midsummer Cushion at The Wisbech Pottery in 1993

Joint exhibitions include:
Writing Britain at the British Library 2012
Best of Hackney at The Geffrye Museum Design Centre 2002
Pride & Prejudice at the Museum of London 1999
Baked Earth & True Fire at Wisbech & Fenland Museum 1991

Other text/image projects include:
The moment that holds you Artist’s film by Liz Mathews with Frances Bingham, setting poems by Jeremy Hooker (Potters’ Yard 2016)
Paper Wings Artist's book, images by Liz Mathews, text by Maureen Duffy (Pottery Press 2014)
Paper Wings Artist's film by Liz Mathews with Frances Bingham, text by Maureen Duffy (Potters' Yard 2014)
Sea light cover image for The Principle of Camouflage by Frances Bingham
(Two Ravens Press, 2011)
Riversoup Artists' film, images by Liz Mathews, text by Frances Bingham
(Potters' Yard 2009)
Spacewater cover image for Journey from Winter: Selected Poems of  Valentine Ackland ed. Frances Bingham (Carcanet 2008)
MOTHERTONGUE Artists' book, images by Liz Mathews, text by Frances Bingham (Pottery Press 1999)

Press coverage of Liz Mathews' work has appeared in The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Financial Times, Time Out, Ceramic Review, Crafts, Studio Pottery, Diva, The Pink Paper and Country Living.

If you like your ceramics tactile and graphic, you'll love Liz Mathews' latest collection.
(How to buy art for your home - Guardian Weekend)

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