Ruthin Craft Centre
The Centre for the Applied Arts


Gallery 3

Animal Rites

Celebrating fauna in clay 22 April – 2 July 2023


Exhibitors: Louise Bell, Jack Durling, Liz Ellis, Susan Halls, Brendan Hesmondhalgh, Catrin Howell, Susan O’Byrne, Charlotte Mary Pack, 
Elaine Peto, Zoe Whiteside


Twenty years ago Jan Morris wrote an inspirational introduction for Catrin Howells’ first solo exhibition. She wrote “Deep in the consciousness – or unconsciousness – of Welsh people live the creatures of the animal kingdom. In life as in art, in the imagination as in the hard fact, the birds and the beasts are always there. Mortal sheep graze, of course, dogs bark in the night, badgers stalk the woodlands and the seatrout storm their heroic passages upstream. But there are immortal creatures too, in the grand menagerie of Wales. There are blazing dragons and strange white cattle. There are birds bearing love-messages for poets.”

Animals are magnificent: yet it seems we humans in our continuous quest to be the leaders of the pack are determined to destroy many of their wild habitats and that eventually will destroy them. Many have become extinct such as the Dodo; some have moved into the realms of folklore and many others will disappear without a trace. However contrarily for millennia humans have also revered animals and their magnificence; from the Neolithic cave paintings of Lascaux to the magnificence of Greco-Roman zoomorphic sculpture, Picasso’s visceral canvases and latterly through twentieth century documentary photography and film.

Animal Rites is a celebration of the fellow beings who cohabit our planet: an ode to those so many of us share our immediate lives with on a domestic level. Passionate about their subjects, dedicating their practice to their recognition and protection, the ten makers whose work we see in Animal Rites shine a light on some of the creatures that we share our world with. Distinctive and characterful examples of contemporary ceramic practice, some inspired directly from the natural world, others imagined from mythology, the historic narratives and the stories we are often told as children.

Rites are celebratory social customs, solemn acts; and act we must as David Attenborough recently said “The truth is, every one of us, no matter who we are or where we live, can and must play a part in restoring nature……It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or powerless by the scale of the issues facing our planet, but we have the solutions. I am hopeful for the future, because although nature is in crisis, now is the time for action, and together we can save it.”

Curated by Gregory Parsons 

image: Catrin Howell