York Art Gallery

11 February – 10 June, 2012

This touring exhibition showcased more than 100 works by one of the world’s most distinguished ceramic artists, and ws accompanied by a new full-colour book detailing his career and a symposium on 11 May 2012.

Gordon Baldwin is a sculptural potter who has been very influential in moving ceramics towards sculptural forms and away from traditional functional pots.

For many years he taught at Eton College and worked in a rooftop studio there; today he is based at home in Shropshire.

The exhibition opens in the year of Baldwin’s 80th birthday.

The exhibition and its themes

The works in the exhibition date from the 1960s onwards and include new works made by Baldwin as he approaches his 80th birthday.

Works are displayed thematically, alongside related drawings, collages and photographs.

Written information is kept to a minimum, allowing visitors to fully appreciate the experience of being surrounded by the striking visual array of sculptural pieces.


Landscape and place

Gordon Baldwin has always been drawn to the landscape.

From the Lincolnshire of his youth to the dramatic coast of the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales, particularly an inlet he calls ‘the place of stones’.

Baldwin says:

“There is a beach in Wales I call ‘the place of stones’. It was found decades ago by a blind pin on the map.”

Aural landscapes

Music is important to Gordon Baldwin’s work. His interests range from traditional world music, to the work of contemporary composers.

He says: “These sounds are silently in my head, as are the different silences of stones and vessels.”


Imagined landscapes

Baldwin creates a rich variety of forms. Many can be seen as ‘vessels’, from bowls, to less obvious containers with openings.

He never ‘decorates’ his work, the marks and colours he applies are integral to the form, like the weathered surface of a stone.


Signposts through a landscape

Gordon Baldwin gives titles to all his work and they are important to him. They help him to identify a piece whilst making it, or to move on from it when it’s completed.

The titles can spring from a landscape, piece of music, art or literature, or a line from a poem.