Gordon Baldwin is born in Lincoln in 1932. He studied at the Lincoln School of Art and the Central School of Art and Design (1950-53) and was teacher of Ceramics and Sculpture at Eton College. Baldwin was awarded an OBE in 1992 and an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art, London in 2000. He was influenced by contemporary sculpture and has worked with both earthenware and stoneware. His work has been exhibited worldwide and is represented in many public collections.
Gordon Baldwin is a towering figure in British ceramic art. He has made these atmospheric, largely monochromatic
sculptures in a spirit of reflection on his recent major retrospective exhibition, Gordon Baldwin: Objects for a Landscape, in 2012 touring the UK. The works thus represent a development of his themes, although he also considers them to contribute some concluding comment. Baldwin has long acknowledged the influence of experimental twentieth-century composers, such as the minimalist music of Philip Glass and Terry Riley on his work, and has written of his admiration for the writers of the Surrealist movement and his application of aleatoric operations following the example of Cage. But these are just a few of the nodes within his ‘mythic landscape of memories’. Another enduring reference point is a beach in North Wales, ‘… that I call the place of stones. It was found decades ago by a blind pin in a map. This chance event discovered me and chance has directed my projects and widened my horizons. In this place I looked for emotional correspondences.’ His new abstract vessels follow two principal themes. The densely black enclosed forms of The Buds are Bursting series have a tense, explosive nature, analogous to the potential energy of the jet black buds of ash trees - part of the British landscape now in jeopardy. A contrasting series of tall vessels have the colour and texture of deep snow. These gradually open up from the base, in a sequence of shifts and sensual transformations, with the addition of speculatively drawn lines that seem to plot their elemental journey. As distilled moments of experience, the works prompt reflection on the unknowable and unfathomable, and do so in ways that are imaginative and profound.
His work is featured in important public collections worldwide and has been the subject of a number major retrospectives
including a 1983 exhibition originated by Cleveland County Museum, Middlesbrough, with national tour; a 1989 retrospective held at the Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam; and the 2012 touring exhibition, Gordon Baldwin: Objects for a Landscape,
originated by York Art Gallery and selected by Tatjana Marsden (text: Marden Woo Gallery).
Pictures: Gordon Baldwin between his collection, 1989 (source Mysterious Volumes); Portrait during Art in Yorkshire (The Press 2012); Baldwin in his studio; Form 1971, h. 40,5 cm (Gallery Besson); Developed bottle 1982, h.35cm; Leaning Vessel Form 1987 h.51 cm (MAAK Auction London); Asymmetries III 2004, h. 58,5 cm (National Gallery Australia).
• Thormann, Olaf, Gefäss / Skulptur - Vessel / Sculpture; Keramik / Ceramics seit / since 1946 Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst Leipzig, 2013.
• Kuyken-Schneider, Doris U. and Th. te Duits, Gordon Baldwin, Mysterious Volumes, Catalogue Museum Boymans-van Beuningen Rotterdam, 1989.