New Ashgate Gallery champions the best of contemporary art and craft providing an unparalleled resource in Farnham, Surrey and beyond
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Potter Silvia Kamodyova was featured in the New Ashgate Gallery’s Rising Stars 2013. Since then, Silvia has regularly exhibited at the gallery, as part of the Hothouse 4: New Ashgate Selects exhibition, with a solo exhibition as Maker in Focus, and as part of the Craft Collection. She also took part in Crafts Council's Hothouse programme that provides the maker with the tools to grow a sustainable and successful business. New Ashgate Gallery is one of the Hothouse partners. Silvia went on to win New Designers: One Year On award in 2013, and her work is widely exhibited and collected across the country.
Silvia’s work heavily influenced by the rich heritage of her native Slovakia, “inspired by history and old relics” and the agricultural traditions of a culture gradually being erased by the modern world Her terracotta vessels and tableware have elevated the relics of a disappearing way of life to sought after and cherished pieces of contemporary craft. The minimalist patterning and forms echo a simpler way of life which is alien to most of us.
After moving to Brighton in 1999 from Slovakia, it was in Holland where Silvia first developed a taste for ceramics. Choosing to return to Brighton to study ceramics she achieved a distinction in MDes 3D Materials Practice in 2012 at Brighton University. Studying and living in the UK has directed what Silvia produces, mindful who the work is produced for and conscious of the British market. But a consequence of learning her craft and developing her business here, something of a barrier has developed between her craft and her native country, and the irony isn’t lost on her:
“It’s funny because most of the knowledge I’ve learned about ceramics or business was in English. I find it very difficult to speak of my work and what I do in Slovak. I couldn’t teach ceramics in my own language! All the terms and words I struggle to translate. It’s a very strange feeling.”
It was on a study placement in Italy that Silvia began working with red clay, drawn to the sense of nostalgia she found in the material. The work embodies our universal desire to preserve our heritage and keep the connection between ourselves and where we come from alive. Childhood trips to museums full of agricultural and war memorabilia and visits to vineyards peppered with ceramic pots with her grandfather have been etched into her memory. The various artefacts remembered from these trips have been born again through Silvia’s designs and given new purposes. The experiences of her relatively rustic upbringing have shaped the work she produces today. “It does sound idyllic now but it was quite raw environment.” Being able to reference her home through her work is something of a comfort, as after living here for 16 years she still gets homesick. Her separation from Slovakia has only enhanced the desire to research her heritage.
Silvia maintains that her work is not conceptual, liking objects to be “made well” and “finished beautifully.” Practicality is always at the forefront of Silvia’s ceramics, but there is a romantic sensibility, where the ceramic vessels pick up where their predecessors left off, as objects to assist our daily life. “I’m that kind of person, when I see a sculpture I think “wouldn’t that look lovely hanging with a lightbulb in it?” It’s just the way I think. At the end of a day for me it’s all about making a living with what I enjoy doing and being honest to yourself.”
“I’m a potter and I’m not ashamed of the word.”
"Taking part in Rising Stars exhibition within a year was a great experience for a new graduate. It gave my work a significant exposure and credibility. Hothouse 4 was a fantastic experience. The intensity of the program pushed me towards resetting almost completely the way I thought about my practice. I’ve developed my existing skills and learned so many new ones; expanded my network and opportunities. On several occasions I still use my files of information that I’ve gathered during Hothouse. Being invited to be Maker in Focus at the New Ashgate Gallery (NAG) was a very nice surprise as I've always had a connection to this gallery. It went really well and my work has been popular with their visitors and customers. I always appreciated how much support I've been given by the NAG team.”
Silvia’s work is currently on display as part of the Gallery’s Craft Collection, and is available to purchase through our website:
Profile based on personal communication between Silvia and Emily Cranny, 11 March 2016.
For more than 50 years, New Ashgate Gallery has supported artists and makers. It promotes and champions the best contemporary art and craft and provides an unparalleled resource in Farnham, Surrey and beyond. The Gallery curates an exciting programme of exhibitions in the market place and events for artists and the community.
Opening hours: Tue-Sat, 10am-5pm. Free admission. For more information, contact Dr Outi Remes, Gallery Director.