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  Jennifer
Lee
A working day for Scottish artist Jennifer Lee (b. 1956) begins in her London studio, where she begins the long process of coiling and pinching vessel forms of such elegant proportions that viewers are often surprised to learn that they were not created on the wheel. It is here, as Edmund de Waal observes, “…overlooking a tangle of jasmine in her garden[,] she works with her back to the kiln, a white expanse in front of her, her feet amongst her famous archive of coloured clays, carefully bagged and labelled over thirty years.”

These stoneware clays, with which Lee mixes oxides to achieve her singular colors, go unglazed in her artistic process. In his 1971 book, Ceramics, Philip Rawson writes that without glazes, “The pot body is made to declare itself through its own process of making.” This is precisely what the works of Jennifer Lee do, because without glaze, her incorporation of earthy speckles, haloes and bands of colored clay into the body of her forms is clearly evident.

In her final pieces, colors seem to bleed and blend together so freely that, despite their small stature, they recall landscapes and geological forms without resorting to the imitation of nature. Leah Ollman of the Los Angeles Times illuminates the work’s relationship with the natural world, writing that, “Their textures and pigmentation do not just evoke natural elements and processes, but convey an equivalency with them. Lee’s pots conjure the essence of sand, stone, silt and sedimentation. Breathtaking in their simplicity, they don’t merely illustrate conditions of nature but elegantly, gracefully manifest them.”

Jennifer Lee’s body of work, like the geological processes it conjures, has evolved slowly since she began working as a ceramic artist in the early 1980s, after completing her studies at the Edinburgh College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. She has limited her explorations to bowl and vessel forms, but has found freedom within these self-imposed constraints. Through concentrated effort, Lee has made expansive the borders of her artistic production. As the years pass, her work has grown increasingly refined and disciplined. Carefully considered asymmetries disturb the equilibrium of her vessels, and add to their elegance. These irregularities of form echo how her pieces function within space, an important component of Lee’s work. According to Edmund de Waal in his essay on the artist, “Some objects shrink in the world, or diminish their surroundings. Others, like Jennifer Lee’s, seem to add.”

Each of Lee’s works possesses a clarity of aesthetic, each existing with a quiet self-confidence that speaks to the labor involved in their production. Her work is arduous, carried out by hand, and in the words of Tanya Harrod, “It confirms what we always suspected, that there must be dark determination, toughness, and struggle to create works of such poised purity and perfection.”

Jennifer Lee’s work is internationally represented in major museum collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Royal Scottish Museum. She was invited in 2009 by Issey Miyake to exhibit at his foundation 21_21 Design for the exhibition U-Tsu-Wa, designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Lee has also shown in numerous solo exhibitions world-wide.




Education

1979     Edinburgh College of Art, Dip AD
1980     Traveling Scholarship to the USA
1983     Royal College of Art, London, MA RCA

Museum Collections

Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums, Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Buckinghamshire County Museum, Aylesbury, United Kingdom
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Contemporary Art Society, London, United Kingdom
Crafts Council Collection, London, United Kingdom
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California
Europäisches Kunst Handwerk Landesgerwerbeamt, Stuttgart, Germany
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Glasgow Museum and Art Galleries, United Kingdom
Hawkes Bay Art Gallery and Museum, Napier, New Zealand
Hove Museum and Art Gallery, Hove, United Kingdom
Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg, Coburg, Germany
Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds, United Kingdom
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art, Mashiko, Japan
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Musee Bellerive, Zurich, Switzerland
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany
National Museum of Sweden, Stockholm, Sweden
Norwich Castle Museum, Norwich, United Kingdom
Peters Foundation, London, United Kingdom
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Röhsska Konstslöjdmuseet, Göteborg, Sweden
Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia,
             Norwich, United Kingdom
Scottish Collection, SDA, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Scripps College, Claremont, California
Thamesdown Collection, Museum and Art Gallery, Swindon, United Kingdom
Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, Japan
Trustees Savings Bank Collection, London, United Kingdom
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom


Selected Solo Exhibitions


2013          Erskine, Hall & Coe, London, United Kingdom  
2012          New Work, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2010          Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney, Australia
2009          Recent Work, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2008          Galerie Besson, London, United Kingdom
2006          Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney, Australia
2005          New Work, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2003          Galerie Besson, London, United Kingdom
2002          Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2000          Galerie Besson, London, United Kingdom
1999          James Graham & Sons, New York
1998          Focus, Contemporary Applied Arts, London, United Kingdom
1997          Galerie Besson, London, United Kingdom
1996          James Graham & Sons, New York
1995          Galerie Besson, London, United Kingdom
1994          Jennifer Lee - Handbuilt Ceramics 1979-1994, Aberdeen Art Gallery and
                        Museums, Aberdeen, United Kingdom
                 Osiris, Brussels, Belgium
1993          Galleri Lejonet, Stockholm, Sweden
                 Röhsska Konstslöjdmuseet, Göteborg, Sweden
1992          Gallerie Besson, London, United Kingdom
                 Gallery Lejonet, Stockholm, Sweden
                 Röhsska Konstslöjdmuseet, Göteborg, Sweden
1991          Graham Gallery, New York
1990          Gallerie Besson, London, United Kingdom  
1987          Crafts Council, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom
                 Beaux Arts, Bath, United Kingdom
1986          Craft Centre, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, United Kingdom
1985          Institute of Contemporary Art, London, United Kingdom
                 Rosenthal Studio-Haus, London, United Kingdom
1984          Anatol Orient, London, United Kingdom
1981          The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, United Kingdom