Matthew Blakely was born in the UK but emigrated to Australia in 1988 and studied Ceramics at The National Art School Sydney. He has worked as a potter ever since, building workshops and kilns in Australia and the UK, on his return in 2002. Currently Matthew lives and works in a small village on the edge of the Fens, near Cambridge.
My work explores the links between ceramics and geology and place, making pieces entirely from geological samples that I have collected from specific locations around the country, and that illustrate the ceramic qualities inherent in these materials. There is an extremely varied geology in the UK with a spectacular range of rocks and minerals ranging from recent river deposits to some of the oldest rocks on the planet. Many of these have been quarried at some stage during the human occupation of the country, though mostly for processes other than ceramics, such as building or making roads. The pieces that I make illustrate another way of looking at these materials and the colours and textures that they are capable of producing in the kiln: inspiration coming from the materials themselves, the qualities that they develop in firings and the places that I have collected them from.
I am working with a wide range of different rocks and clays, using firing types and temperatures that bring out the best in them. Increasingly my approach becomes simpler and simpler, taking ceramics back to its essence. I use these materials as unrefined as possible: rocks are crushed by hand, milled and blended to create the glazes, clays are often used as dug straight from the ground.
This work is fired in my wood kilns using waste wood that has grown where I live in Cambridgeshire. The firing itself transform these glazes producing exceptional qualities that would be impossible to achieve in any other way. That is what makes this work unique.