Pim, Henry

First name: 
Year of birth: 
Heathfield / Sussex
Country of birth: 
Great Brittain

Henry Pim is born in Heathfield/Sussex in 1949. He studied between 1975 and 1979 at Camberwell School of Art as a mature student. Henry Pim’s early vessel forms, produced after he graduated from Camberwell School of Art in 1979, had a post-modern quality, in keeping with the time. Based on ancient pot forms, this work was part of a new wave of ceramic practice that sought to move away from a strict adherence to function, and to offer a light-hearted, and ornamental riposte to the rather serious-minded craft pottery movement. The influences for this came from America, and from the Memphis design movement in Italy.
Pim’s first solo exhibition was in 1983 at The British Craft Centre in Covent Garden. This paved the way for a series of exhibitions in the UK, notably at the Anatol Orient Gallery. There were several exhibitions outside the UK, particularly at the Garth Clark Galleries in Los Angeles, Kansas City, and New York. In Germany, Pim showed at the Marianne Heller Galerie in Sandhausen, and Galerie L in Hamburg.
The style and substance of Pim’s work continued to develop. By the mid 1980′s he was making hollow forms with curved bases that sat, or rocked, on the surfaces on which they
were placed. During a two-year postgraduate study at the Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam (1988 to 1990) Pim abandoned the decorative textures and rich colourful glaze treatments that had characterised his work hitherto. Using unglazed black clay, this phase of the work concentrated on developing a language of form unrelated to vessels, but more influenced by African art, and by early abstract sculpture.
A retrospective solo exhibition which opened in June 1990 at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and which toured to five other venues in the UK, showed a collection of these recent black sculptures (made in Amsterdam), but also included examples of the different phases that had preceded this.
In 1990, Henry was appointed as Lecturer in Ceramics at The National College of Art and Design in Dublin. This post ushered in a happy and productive period, enabling him to teach, which he enjoyed very much, and to continue to develop several new phases of his own work.
The 1993 exhibition: ‘Henry Pim New Sculpture’ was organised by the Ulster Museum in Belfast, and introduced a completely new kind of work. These pieces were made in sections and assembled into composite structures that were around one metre tall. They made reference to architecture, to ‘Primitive Art’ and one critic wrote about them in the Irish Times as being ‘rich in genitalia’, (a dubious honour perhaps).
More exhibitions, and more developments followed. In 1995, a large solo show at the Galway Art Centre, entitled ‘Thoughts in the Making’ transferred to the Design Yard in Dublin, and was later featured in the Kilkenny Arts Festival and at Schloss Bruchsal near Heidelberg. Several of the pieces were wall-hung, and at the heart of this show was an installation of over 300 ceramic skulls.           A nine-month residency in 2000-2001 at the Ceramics Area of NYU in Manhattan, funded by the sabbatical year programme at NCAD, gave the opportunity to extend and develop a method whereby fabricated and ‘found’ objects could be collaged together in a matrix of paper clay. Pim uses the term ‘Conglomerate’ to describe this way of working. This period of research set the direction for several years’ work in the studio and several exhibitions back in Ireland.
From his first experience of helping to organise a group exhibition of ex-Camberwell Ceramists in 1983, Pim has been actively involved in the curating and planning of exhibitions. The annual Degree Shows at the National College of Art and Design were a high point of each year’s achievement by the staff and students there. He helped to organise several student shows at Gallery Zozimus in Dublin, and has shown his own work there also.
As a founder member, and Secretary of Irish Contemporary Ceramics, and member of Ceramics Ireland Pim has contributed to, and exhibited alongside the wider community of practising Irish Ceramists.
After 21 years as course leader in the NCAD Ceramics Area, Pim retired in December 2011 and moved to South London where he has joined the 2DE Vanguard Court Studio in Camberwell.
Just before leaving Dublin, he took part in two exhibitions:
‘Transform’ was a Ceramics Ireland show, opening at Farmleigh Gallery in Dublin, in May 2011, and subsequently touring to Portadown’s Millennium Arts Centre, and to the Limerick School of Art and Design Gallery. Pim took this opportunity to show a group of wall-hung conglomerates, very much in the manner that dates from the new developments of 2000.
‘Entropy’, ran from November 2011 until March 2012 at The Glasnevin Museum in Dublin, and was a group show alongside other faculty members from the NCAD Department of Ceramics Glass and Metals. For this show, Pim showed a new aspect of his work. Making use of an extrusion technique (which he had been slowly developing during the previous 18 months), he showed a collection of open, delicate grid structures (text from artist website).
visit also www.henrypim.com

Pictures: Portrait 2011 (source Prof. Judith Schwartz); A tall vase, 1983, private collection Cornwall (source Auction Atrium); a pouring vessel, 1985 (source Auction Atrium); grid-house 1, 2011 (souce website artist).

Work of the artist: 

His work is first constructed in paper or lino, cut and held with masking tape. The pieces are then used like a dressmaking pattern to cut out textured slabs of clay from which the vessels are built. The textured surface is created by pressing the sheets of clay with a carved plaster rolling pin. Multiple layers of slip, engobe and glaze are then applied to the textured surface. Pim is influenced by Greek forms as well as the work of Antonio Gaudi.


• Thormann, Olaf, Gefäss / Skulptur - Vessel / Sculpture; Keramik / Ceramics seit / since 1946 Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst Leipzig, 2013.