Buncrana artist “all on fire” for his first solo exhibition at Artlink


A graduate of Crawford College of Art & Design in Cork, Matthew returned home to Donegal in 2017 to set up a studio and his own ‘Púca Pottery’ business that sells modern ceramics inspired by nature and organic form.

Indeed, the majority of Matthew’s ceramics and artwork are inspired by our ancient past and Inishowen’s hauntingly beautiful landscapes – including its enchanting forests and wildlife, and a dramatic and rugged coastline. which has been carved for millennia by strong winds and a heavy Atlantic. inflated.

As a teenager, Matthew discovered his passion for working with clay while studying fine art at North West Regional College in Derry. He then specialized in ceramics and glass while continuing his studies in contemporary applied art at Crawford College of Art & Design in Cork. During his studies, he also won a scholarship to the University of Shanghai in China to study cast glass. Since returning to Donegal, he has supported his growing business by facilitating ceramic workshops for beginners and creating commissioned public works of art.

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Handcrafted by Matthew Porter. (Memory factory photograph)

For the most part, Matthew’s ceramic pieces are individually handcrafted, rather than using a potter’s wheel: “I mainly use hand-crafting techniques,” he said, “J love how the slow process gives me time to figure out which direction I want to intuitively enter each room. It also gives me a lot more flexibility with the size of the parts I can craft – the only restriction is really the size of the oven you have. I can create things this way that would be impossible to do on a wheel. I also feel more connected to clay this way – usually using just a knife, scraper, and my hands. ”

Matthew’s love for working with clay also extends to the construction and decorating phases – and he gets excited every time he opens the oven door after each frosting firing to see the transformations that have taken place. occurred: “I fell in love with clay very early in my studies because it is such a versatile medium and its possibilities are endless. I enjoy the construction and decoration phases the most because there is always a part of chance in this process. I’ll always leave with a shape and size in mind, but because I like to build my pieces by hand, the slow nature of it leaves a lot of room for improvisation. I usually do the decoration at this point also while the clay is still semi-soft (leather) either by sculpting or applying layers of slip (liquid clay) or colored metal oxides. By adding multiple layers of slip and oxides, the patterns or shapes I applied start to evolve and take on a life of their own, which I really enjoy. In terms of geological process, it is a bit like the formation of rocks or sedimentary layers.

“I’m also always impressed with the unpredictability of the firing process. You learn through experience what a room can look like, but you never really know for sure – and there are always some amazing surprises the oven gods have in store for you when you open the door!

Matthew also explains how the local landscapes as well as Irish culture and heritage have influenced his work: “I have always been interested in ancient cultures and living here is very close to the surface. Ancient Irish pottery is very rare, but it has been made here for thousands of years. Even the functional items of Stone Age potters were decorated everywhere by imprinting objects into the wet clay such as seashells, bird bones, and rope. The urge to decorate seems to be in all of us. However, I try not to overthink where my inspiration comes from, but our landscape and culture are definitely important factors! “

‘Space for the head’ – 22cm x 12cm – Pewter / Copper glaze.

While Matthew is also exhibiting drawings and paintings from his vast portfolio of works, his favorite pieces that will be on display are ceramics: familiar with where the piece is taken out of the kiln at around 1000 degrees and placed in sawdust. of wood that makes the bare clay black and the glazed areas a range of colors like oil on water. I am also a little obsessed with lines and patterns and have made a series of drawings (and computer aided drawings) which I am also happy to exhibit. For the most part, I still try to blur the lines between traditional and non-traditional disciplines!

Matthew Porter’s exhibition opens to the public on December 9, 2021 at the Saldanha Gallery, Artlink Fort Dunree and will remain on view until Sunday January 16, 2022. The gallery is open Monday through Saturday 10:30 am to 4 pm (closed for Christmas holidays from December 22 to January 4 and admission is free. The Saldanha Gallery will also be closed to the public from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday December 12 for an official opening of the exhibition and will be limited to “by invitation only” in order to to ensure the safety of participants and to comply with Covid government guidelines.

Rebecca Strain of the Artlink Team / Collective said: “Matthew’s stunning artwork and exquisite ceramics have featured in various exhibitions across Ireland – which is why we are delighted to present her first solo exhibition at Artlink. “

“Indeed, this next exhibition will present an eclectic mix of works of art, drawings and ceramic pieces drawn from Matthew’s love for nature and our ancient past which is the essential DNA of the works that will be exhibited.

Series of abstract landscapes – monoprints – 29cm x 42cm.

“Emerging artists or artisans like Matthew need all the support they can get – so I would encourage as many people as possible to visit this magnificent exhibition in December and January. It is not only a showcase of Matthew’s incredible artistry and creativity, but also an insightful exploration of his natural surroundings and the various life forms of his beloved Donegal – including for example The Púca / a creature. Celtic folklore!

“However, as is always the case with the vibrant visual arts or even the beautifully created ceramic pieces and detailed designs, words alone cannot be enough or do them justice – you just have to immerse yourself in the exhibit and see art by yourself to capture their intricate beauty!

For more information visit www.artlink.ie email [email protected] or phone 0838696513/0864532428.

Raku vase – 36cm x 18cm – Copper glaze


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