During our 145th year in business, it is important to us that we nurture the relationships established by our gallery in the last century - especially those with artists which we still enjoy today. This exhibition is a celebration of artist-potter Hylton Nel's 80th birthday year, marking a collaboration with The Fine Art Society that spans a quarter of a century. Since first showing with us in 1996, Hylton's ceramics exhibitions have been eagerly anticipated by his adoring fans, to whom his works have brought so much pleasure over the years.
Due to the amount of interest in Hylton's work all sales are on a 'first come, first served' basis.
No reserves will be possible. Viewings will be available to book online here.
Things are lost along the way from wars, naughty children or jealous rivals; they need constant replacement. I like things, and early on made things to supply my own needs. And that is how it continues to be. I keep back items from a series and also some unique things. And after a while some can go to be replaced by new things. Of things not made by me, in anticipation of a new arrival, I sometimes clear the way for it by giving away some or all of a related kind in order for the new thing, for a while, to rule alone.
When the choice of what to keep is difficult it pleases me because then I suppose that the batch is OK.
For the current show I am making some new cats and returning to some older favourite cat figures. The first one is Interrupted While Reading which I suppose to be myself behaving politely.
The second is a group of two cats. They have supped, washed up and hung out the cloths to dry. Stepping into the yard they are simply transported by a supermoon. The other pair, also suburban, find that in spite of living in a troubled world (the black lines below), they can still enjoy the moon.
The fat cats have their origin in my being fed up with a terrible neighbour. The first ones had a stoneware glaze, and this one, in earthenware, seems to have been snapped in a frowsty bedroom of the famous bed by Tracey Emin. The last new figure is a Cat Mother and Child. I am paying due homage to an image that has beguiled me for a long time. During the 1960s a friend told me of a Staffordshire pottery figure, quite small, costing £6, of that subject, cat mother and child. I bought it and still have it. It dates from the 1830s to 1840s and was meant as a mockery of the snooty, catty nursemaids employed by the rich - dislike extended to the charges as well. This figure also was not popular and is rare as a result. Rather than humans looking cat-like, mine are cats behaving a little like humans and there is no mockery, just wonder at the bond between mother and child. This piece came to mind because I have recently had fairly constant contact with two small boys, pre-walking, pre-talking, coming along well. Seeing their mothers hold them and, more importantly, holding them myself – it is simply that feeling that I wish to show. The last plate of Goya’s Disasters of War, titled ‘These are the truths that matter’, also was also in my mind when making this cat mother and child.
ANDREW MCINTOSH PATRICK
Some thirty years ago, when Min Hogg showed me some pieces by Hylton Nel, my first reaction was lukewarm. I had always harboured a suspicion that faux-naif wasn't really serious. Charm over substance! Luckily my then colleague, Richard Ingleby, didn't share my lack of enthusiasm and we started to exhibit Hylton's work. Later, indeed, another colleague, Michael Mohammed, produced several very successful one-man shows. Especially after seeing the hoard of Hylton's treasures collected by Moira and Victor Benigson, I realised how daft was my first reaction...faux nothing...here was a very serious artist producing pieces of outstanding sophistication and worth. With an encyclopaedic knowledge of the world's ceramic heritage, an astonishing rapport with the ways of the world and a finely tuned sense of humour, Hylton's was/is very special. The pieces I have bought for myself have given immense pleasure.
Happy Birthday Hylton!
The following works are from the Andrew McIntosh Patrick collection.
PROFFESSOR TAMAR GARB
On a table in the offices of his Cape Town gallery sits a selection of Hylton Nel’s ceramics (fig. 1). They have been arranged, casually, by Mark Barben, so that I can view them before they are packed and sent to The Fine Art Society. The arrangement is fortuitous: placed in a circle is a council of cats, presiding over a colourful array of plates and bowls, each inscribed with words and images that read as quotations and citations from a dizzying array of sources. Not all of these will end up in London. Nor will they be arranged like this when they sit on the walls of the Fine Art Society. But something about their unceremonious placement and disregard for the protocols of gallery display brings the curious conjunction of cats and pots into vivid and unlikely conversation.
The cats appear imperious and grand. Bearing sundry expressions, they look down on the pots beneath with varied and distinctive expressions. Some seem grumpy and rude, others benevolent and kind. With their mottled surfaces, brightly painted and glazed to indicate if not mimic the variegated patterns of fur, they defy all expectations of verisimilitude. Instead, they seem like story-book animals: pointy-eared, round eyed, whiskered and weird, they bring an array of precedents to mind. Supreme amongst these are the cat-deities of Ancient Egypt, where the animals were so revered that they were often mummified and preserved, even appearing as cat-heads placed on human bodies to represent female gods.... Read more
Please note that the following works are all priced inclusive of 5% import tax.