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Walter Keeler

Walter Keeler

Walter Keeler’s pottery is mainly domestic and functional in salt glazed stoneware or, more rarely, earthenware. He trained at the Harrow School of Art, studying under Victor Margrie and Michael Casson, and later returned there to teach. He was professor of Ceramics at the University of the West of England from 1994 to 2002

Walter says that the pottery tradition is at the heart of all his work. Pottery for use has been central to all settled human communities. Seldom merely functional, it has been a vehicle for expression and the fulfilment of a delight in the pleasure of handling a sensual and incredibly versatile material; the useful bound up with the intellect and the imagination.

He discovered pottery as a boy, becoming intimate with fragments of ancient pots picked up on the beaches of the Thames in London. They infiltrated his mind and senses, giving him an insight into the syntax of thrown pottery; a sense of what is authentic, which he only understood as he gained experience in the craft.

So his work is informed by his passion for pots from the past, but also by making and firing, and the world and times in which he lives. Sometimes, he makes simple useful things like mugs or jugs, on other occasions his work is less straightforward, making demands, even challenging the user to negotiate with an unexpected pot to do an ordinary job! Saltglaze hooked him from his early days: his first non electric kiln was for salt.

A few years after we moved to Wales in 1976, his functional pots were transformed by drawing on his sculptural instinct to alter and assemble thrown components, which invigorated his interest as well as his reputation which now places him amongst the very best of British studio potters.