‘Throughout her career, Britton has remained committed to the ceramic container, exploring both its formal possibilities and its capacity to hold and communicate thoughts and ideas. Her pots are marked by ambiguity and contradiction, sitting between the sculptural and the everyday, the civilised and the wild, the real and the imagined. A work may seem to be both the representation of a pot as well as an actual one – a pot observed through the artist’s eye, informed by the experience of modern painting.’
Alun Graves, curator, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Today a leading British ceramic artist, Britton was one of an influential group of students who came out of the Royal College of Art in the 1970s. Their radical work challenged and deconstructed notions of ceramics and particularly functional pottery – a movement that came to be known as ‘The New Ceramics’.
Britton has concentrated on making, studying and understanding pots. Her distinctive sculptural works blur the line between art and craft. Works are hand-built from rolled slabs of clay, not thrown on a wheel. Surfaces are exuberantly covered with marks that refer to modern painting as much as the decorative patterns that tend to belong to craft, and by pouring and painting slip, then glaze, across their surfaces.
Her pots have authority and confidence, they appear to have been conceived and constructed by a maker at ease with her materials. Britton’s work has always embraced awkwardness and it resists classification, it is as much about form as it is about surface. Working from a London studio over four decades, she has an international exhibition profile, writes and lectures on current practice across a broad art and design field, and curates exhibitions. Her work can be seen in major public and private collections worldwide, including the V&A, London; Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, Holland; Australian National Gallery, Canberra; National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; and Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. She taught MA and research students at the Royal College of Art in London for over three decades, and was a Senior Tutor for Ceramics and Glass.
Alison Britton was awarded the OBE in 1990.