Hayes, Peter

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Country of birth: 
Great Brittain
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Peter Hayes is born in Birmingham in 1946. He is selected at the age of 12 to attend the Moseley School of Art. In 1961 he left to study at the Birmingham College of Art before travelling extensively in Africa. Over the course of several years, he worked as a ceramic artist with tribes and village potters who inspired him with the exquisite work they produced using very limited technology and tools. In 1972 Peter went to study ceramics in Lesotho, where he was privileged to work with the Basotho. They have a unique way of making burnished pots. Unlike the Zulu's black burnished work, the Basotho pots are bright red; sometimes orange. Though the method and tools are very basic, the finished surfaces are wonderfully smooth to the touch. By using a polished pebble, usually gathered from the riverbank, the leather hard surface is rubbed and polished to compress the clay. By adding red slip to the surface, which has been very finely ground, a highly polished burnished surface is created. The Basotho use dry cow dung for firing the pots. The pots are usually placed upside down to create a pyramid shape. The dry cow dung is then packed all around and covered with various bits of corrugated iron and flattened out metal oil drums and then set alight (Text Sable & Ox).

Moving on to India, Nepal, Japan, Korea and New Mexico, he found similar skills and adopted the techniques he learned. In 1982, Hayes came home and built a studio in a disused toll house on Cleveland Bridge, Bath. His work now builds on the techniques and methods he learned during his travels to create ceramic art that is often inspired by memories of landscapes he has seen. Peter tries to achieve opposites of rough and smooth by building up layers of textured clay combined with the burnishing and polishing of surfaces. The distinctive appearance of Peter Hayes’ ceramic works is partly a result of techniques such as Raku firing he employs but also reflects his habit of submerging pieces in the flowing river beside his studio, or sending them to Cornwall to be washed in the sea, for months at a time. The water washes minerals such as copper and metal oxides into the basic white clay with which Hayes works, creating a characteristic green-blue "blush" in his sculptures along with random elements that make every piece unique. The effect is to create objects that many feel look ancient and perhaps even a little alien. Hayes' work is generally finished by waxing and polishing (tekst Wikipedia).

Visit the artist website: www.peterhayes-ceramics.uk.com

Images: Peter Hayes, portrait (source MIAR Arts); red ceramic object (source Sable & Ox); object in ivory color (source The Stratford Gallery); vaseform (source Collect Art); monumental disc (source website artist); signature (source MIAR Arts).


Work of the artist: 

“My main aim in my work is not to compete with nature, ut for the work to evolve within the environment”