HN254 a-h Hylton Nel |
set of eight glazed ceramic plates
diameter: 25.5cm each
Nel’s idiosyncratic motifs are inspired by what he reads, sees and notices in the routine of his daily life. This set of eight plates evolved from a series of letters dating from the 1950s that he came across in the attic of his house in Calitzdorp. His belief in an instinctive and playful aesthetic sensibility is illustrated by his recollections of the spontaneity of childhood games, which are in sharp contrast to the self-conscious stance of art schools:
One of the secret children’s games that I used to play on the farm – there was a spring that flowed into a pond where there were geese, and the geese used to hatch there and then you’d find bits of eggshell, and goose eggs have very nice white eggshells. I used to take a little box of watercolour paints and paint on these bits of eggshell and then arrange them in little places – I had different places – and then I’d say ‘these ones have got those and those and those pictures, and those have got those’ – and it used to be just a game. And so art school, with its formal aspects, was an interruption of that, in a sense – I was learning valuable new stuff, but the whole thing … was sort of difficult, whereas doing that with the eggshells was just pure pleasure. And then I went to art school in Belgium after Grahamstown, and worked for a bit, and it took about ten years to free myself from those formal constraints and to get back to myself, as it were. (Quoted in Michael Stevenson, Hylton Nel, Cape Town, 2003)
A group of Nel’s works is currently included on the exhibition Table manners: form and function in contemporary international ceramics, curated by Emmanuel Cooper at the Crafts Council Gallery, London. New work will be exhibited at Michael Stevenson in January/February 2006.
© 2005 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.