Prue Cooper

Prue Cooper is a member of the Art Workers’ Guild, where she was Master in 2014. Her work sells widely in the UK, USA and Japan, and she has been given numerous solo shows. Prue Cooper makes press-moulded earthenware dishes, decorated with quotations and images illustrating the ways of the world – witty, friendly or subversive.

Although ideas and narratives, often from other disciplines, interest her more than processes, the physicality and tactile variations of ceramic, the particular intimacy of the hand-made, and the obvious association of a large food-filled dish with sociability and daily life, make slipware the ideal vehicle. All the words Prue uses are quotations, she says ‘literature is common property, and adds to the sense of sharing’. Although the lettering is integral to the design, in the same way that the words are integral to a song, some dishes are without quotations; here the cast of characters portrayed also comment on life and its oddnesses.

For centuries makers have inscribed their artefacts with messages to the world beyond the workshop. For Prue the straightforwardness of red clay, the approachability of press moulding (like making a jam tart) , and the techniques of slipware, easily understood by the viewer,  are ideally suited to communicating what is most important to her in her work – sociableness, common purpose, and the appreciation of simple pleasures. Making things that can be used is a way to communicate.

The crispness of the cut newspaper transfers contrasts with the gentle relief of the slightly raised image, and the soft form of a moulded dish.  The ground colours are brushed, the lettering slip-trailed, and the newspaper cutouts are sgraffito’d before application to the damp clay. The dishes are glazed with a food-safe honey glaze, and are dishwasher-proof and gently ovenproof.

“Although ideas and narratives, often from other disciplines, interest her more than processes, the physicality and tactile variations of ceramic, the particular intimacy of the hand-made, and the obvious association of a large food-filled dish with sociability and daily life, make slipware the ideal vehicle.” – Prue Cooper

Image photographed by Ben Boswell