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Malcolm Dobson

Malcolm Dobson creates sculptural and decorative ceramics influenced by buildings and structures and townscapes. An emotional  response to the romance, melancholy and mystery of abandoned, ruined or half-demolished industrial buildings is especially potent, and emerges through the use of architectonic forms suggestive of buildings rather than representing or reproducing them. Marks, multiple glazes and slips produce reminiscences of patterns made by architectural elements, weathered surfaces, signs and graffiti. The work portrays mood, feeling and emotion – in the words of Graham Sutherland “I found that I could express what I felt only by paraphrasing what I saw. ... the mysteriously intangible must be made immediate and tangible, and vice versa.”

Work is slab built, with the surfaces enriched with applied scraps of clay and impressions and marks made by tools and found objects. Slabs are either rolled, or cast using paperclay slip on small plaster slab molds (paperclay is a mixture of conventional clay and cellulous fibres, commonly shredded paper. It produces a clay that has a great deal of strength in its pre-fired state, and can be joined together when it is bone dry). Multiple glazes and slips are used to create textures and layers of colour echoing patterns made by architectural elements, the colours and textures of crumbling stone, rusting metal, and peeling & cracked paint. Cut-up transfers suggest worn signs and advertisements, and graffiti.

The work is fired to stoneware temperature (c. 1260 C) in electric and gas kilns – the latter used for reduction firings.

Malcolm trained as a librarian, and started working with clay in evening classes in 1993. After moving to Scotland in 1994 he worked part-time as a librarian, devoting the rest of the time to ceramics, until he took early retirement in 2008.
He developed his knowledge of ceramics through reading, practice, workshops run by the Scottish Potters Association and while working as an assistant to Annabelle Meikle in Aberfoyle.

In 2003 he was accepted into the first group of students to study ceramics at the Glasgow School of Art through the part-time, distance learning course, graduating with a BA in 2009.

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