Colin Caffell Sculpture Commissions - the full works
Sculptor, potter, garden designer and writer

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I grew up in an area between Regent's Park and Euston Station at the tail end of the steam age in a grey, post-war London surrounded by bomb sites and numerous new building developments. The only colour I remember from that time was that of Queen Mary's Rose Gardens, nearby in the centre of the park. This was one of my childhood playgrounds, as was the British Museum, also within walking distance. It was here in the sculpture collections of ancient Egypt and Greece that I unconsciously developed an awareness of the monumentality of man's aspirations through art, and how representations of mythology have played a key role in that. For me, great art always has a story embedded somewhere within it. I also became fascinated by how the act of reconstruction imbued objects with a degree of preciousness, especially when placed within display cabinets. Thus began a craze for collecting and displaying all sorts of found objects, including rocks and minerals. Following a state comprehensive school education in St John's Wood, I went on to gain an Honours Degree in Ceramics and 3-Dimensional Design from Camberwell School of Art in south London. I had planned to study painting but the year of Foundation studies changed all that. I was very fortunate to be at Camberwell in the early 1970's, during the heyday of its ceramics course, being taught by some of the leading studio potters in Britain at that time: Colin Pearson, Ian Godfrey, Ewen Henderson, Janice Tchalenko and Glenys Barton to name but a few. My greatest inspiration, however, has been Lucie Rie, to whom I will always be grateful for the time she gave me in her studio.
After a failed marriage, twin sons and a couple of jobs in advertising sales, I began to make pottery again. At Camberwell, most of my work had been reduction fired, in a gas kiln. This kind of facility was never feasible within the urban environment in which I had chosen to operate. So I turned to oxidised firing in an electric kiln, yet still yearned for the exciting,  slightly unpredictable, reactive qualities of reduced glazes. Thus began a lifelong quest to make electric firings more interesting, as Lucie Rie had, and ultimately, to find ways of controlling the chemical reactions within the glazes and get them to behave in a painterly way, more like pigments. After years of experimentation, this only really came to fruition in the development of my misty seascape pots after my move to Cornwall in 2006; a move I had dreamed of making since my early teens when my love affair with the county first began. By coincidence, many of these pots echo the forms and colours typical of ancient civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean - in particular the Minoan and Egyptian cultures.

The intervening years, however, were fraught with turbulence, tragedy and psychological adventure; a period that led me to making sculpture, writing a book (In Search of the Rainbow's End - Hodder and Stoughton) and working in the field of bereavement and psychotherapy (both in Britain and the USA) with one of the world's leading psychiatrists, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.  As a member of Elisabeth's clinical staff I had to to find my own sense of inner peace and authority through her somewhat radical approach to healing, facing my own demons in order to help others face theirs. This led to being included on the team of Elisabeth's first 'Life, Death and Transition' workshop to be held in a high security prison, in Scotland; the first ever of its kind in the world. After Elisabeth's death, like many of her former staff, I went on to run independent anger and grief workshops for men only (Walking Through Walls) and for mixed groups (Facing the Fire) with other former colleagues. I was also asked to lead a number of summer camps for Bosnian children after the war in former Yugoslavia. Basically giving those war-torn youngsters the space and permission to be children again and have some fun; something many had felt guilty about up to that point - another very humbling experience.

I am now married once again, with a beautiful daughter, and run the Roundhouse and Capstan Gallery at Sennen Cove in West Cornwall with my wife Sally. Most recently, I have completed my first public commission of creating a 'Memorial to Cornish Hard Rock Miners', a statue and garden sited at the entrance to Geevor Mine in Pendeen, near St Just. This was the last working tin mine on the coastal plateau in the far west of Cornwall. I have also become a frequent exhibitor at the Penwith Gallery in St Ives, Cornwall, and was elected as a full member of the Penwith Society of Arts in Cornwall in November 2017. This has been a great privilege for me as a potter and sculptor because the society was founded by some of the giants of British and international art in the 20th century: in particular, Barbara Hepworth, Peter Lanyon, Bernard Leach, and Ben Nicholson.

Photo: Will Wilkinson

I hope you enjoy my work and find something here to interest you