Ornamenation with Attitude
THE CERAMICS OF CAROL McNICOLL
Carol McNicoll’s approach to ceramics and her commitment to complexity have played a compelling role in taking the medium beyond the dictates of tradition and ubiquitous utility. Profile by Ian Wilson.
IT was an exhibition of Eastern carpets that brought the eventful revelation to ceramic artist Carol McNicoll that “It is all right to decorate.” Following this insight she admits, ‘There was no stopping me.’ McNicoll, who studied ceramics at the Royal College of Art alongside Jacqui Poncelet, Elizabeth Fritsch and Alison Britton, has indeed created a body of work which, while exuberantly exploring the decorative, has also contributed significantly to ‘the process through which ceramics has emancipated itself from the criterion of tradition and utility.’ 1 In Peter Dormer’s The New Ceramics, McNicoll’s Knitted Bowl features as the first of many colour illustrations, and Dormer, in the chapter entitled “Pottery Form”, comments: ‘The rejection of the wheel is one way in which ceramists have been able to introduce new thought into pottery. Among the most important potters in this field in Europe have been the English women Alison Britton, Jacqui Poncelet and Carol McNicoll.’ 2 Whilst in the studio, McNicoll, like many people in the UK, listens to Radio 4, and the news reports and current affairs which constitute the subject matter of this network frequently cause her to deplore the seemingly everincreasing ‘democratic deficit so thoroughly blatant in contemporary society’. However, instead of merely ranting, she directs these feelings of anger and frustration into inspiration for making a new piece.
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