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Ben’s current ceramics evolved from an Arts Council funded exploration he undertook a few years ago into the use of contrasting clays and stains. To create a colourful fluid field for the trompe l’oeil image, he laminates a porcelain veneer onto a stronger clay body. The drawn illusion is complemented by the colourful rhythm in the base clay. The pots are an exploration of the way we see. The onlooker will be aware of the frail illusion and the contradiction between what is suggested and what is tangible. He likes to play a game: setting the prosaic nature of clay against the unlikely structures of the drawings.
Ben’s parents, Sally, a sculptor – and Mick Arnup, a painter and potter – were both studying at the Royal College of Art in London, when he was born. Ben grew up learning ceramic skills and technology. Having trained as a landscape architect at Manchester Polytechnic, Ben worked for Landscape Design Associates, Peterborough. In 1984, Ben returned to making pots influenced by the design process.
From the outset of his career as a potter, Ben’s pots were already shallow, with trompe l’oeil illusions. For the first fifteen years, Ben’s work was high fired stoneware in an oil reduction kiln. In order to achieve cleaner brighter colours, Ben now fires to an oxidised stoneware, in an electric kiln.
Ben has exhibited in Britain, Europe and America and his work is represented in public collections in Britain and Germany. He has become a fellow of the Craft Potters Association.