In this upcoming show, Bryan Illsley limits himself to two elements of his extraordinarily accomplished diverse practice – his distinctive abstract ceramic work and colourful collage paintings.
Taking inspiration from his unique style of book manufacture where he felt he could be very free with design, the spur for these new ‘disrupted paintings’ was to work in a more reckless way. This boldness of impulse and the lively, dramatic style of the collages are echoed in the light-hearted title of the show.
Working without provisional sketches or maquettes lends a vigorous fervour to his work. As with his paintings, Illsley’s rugged ceramic creations carry signs of his physical involvement and spontaneous touch. In ‘Loopy’, we see these elements in the balanced movement of the piece, the splashes of glassy glaze, and patches of arresting colour.
Consciously careless perhaps, but not without concentrated effort and remarkable execution- Illsley’s latest poignant series of work highlights a truly resourceful and emotive craftsman.
Text by Siobhan Feeney
Born in 1937, Bryan Illsley's creative practice includes painting, sculpture, book manufacture and design, print and jewellery making. Before studying at Kingston School of Art, he served an apprenticeship to a monumental stonemason. He was based in St Ives from the early 1960s until his return to London in1986. In St Ives, alongside his own studio practice, he worked for the Leach Pottery before forming a partnership with Breon O’Casey making jewellery. Public collections that hold examples of his work include the Arts Council, Crafts Council, Contemporary Arts Society, Victoria & Albert Museum, Kettles Yard, Cambridge and the Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto.