Kay Aplin is an architectural ceramist with a background in site-specific work for the public realm. She graduated in Public Art and Design from Chelsea College of Art in 1995, where she specialised in ceramics and glass. Over twenty-five years she has undertaken numerous commissions around the UK and internationally, producing a distinct range of art works that have stood the tests of weather and time. Since 2008 she has been based in Brighton.
Previous projects include permanent sculptural features for many clients including: Historic Royal Palaces, NHS Trusts, Groundwork, local authorities e.g. Caerphilly County Borough Council, Shetland Islands Council, regeneration projects and housing contractors. Kay also undertakes corporate and private commissions for interiors and gardens. See more details here.
In 2011, Kay initiated the award-winning project The Ceramic House, a pop-up gallery space, her home and living showcase of her work. Through this avenue, she has built a reputation as a curator of contemporary ceramics, with increasingly ambitious projects that match the unstoppable spread of tiles throughout the house.
In recent years, Kay has been developing large-scale wall-based ceramic installations for exhibition and by commission. Undertaking residencies in centres such as Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Centre, Denmark, have allowed her the opportunity to experiment, resulting in the creation of new bodies of work. Kay was guest artist at Guldagergaard in 2019 for their annual Woodfiring Symposium and an invited artist to Kohila Woodfiring Symposium in 2018. Further residencies include Scalloway Booth, Shetland and upcoming at Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute (China) and Fiskars (Finland).
Exhibitions include Seoul Artspace Mullae (Korea), European Ceramic Context (Denmark), Collect (Saatchi Gallery), Shetland Museum & Archives, Guldagergaard (Denmark), Sladmore Contemporary (London) and British Ceramics Biennial. Kay has been selected for prizes including Kogei Triennial Kanazawa (Japan), Young Masters Art Prize (Cynthia Corbett Gallery) and Elit-Tile Triennial (Dominican Republic).
Kay’s work responds to place, the legacy of a background in public art. Concepts evolve from the surrounding environment and recurring themes are found through observing detail and pattern within nature, particularly flora, and architecture.
Her process involves using a digital microscope to uncover hidden details in flora which are magnified to reveal highly textured designs that become the basis for porcelain tile-based compositions. Kay’s recent explorations into slip-casting porcelain and soda glazed wood firing have had a profound impact upon her practice. Moving into porcelain has been a revelation, both in the refined surface quality of the material and its capacity for colour through the wood firingglaze process, which produces unique and inimitable results in a palette entirely appropriate for botanically-themed work.
Kay says about her work,
I am inspired by the spectacular. I strive to achieve a sense of exuberance through colour, texture and scale. I endow the tactile properties with equal importance to the visual, hence my penchant for relief. I encourage the viewer to touch, as well as look, giving an interactive quality to a visually stimulating piece. The play between light and shadow, how light affects colour and the reflective qualities of the surface interest me. My aim is to evoke a sense of movement within the inert material through this interplay upon layers of clay, glaze and texture.
Recent explorations into slip casting porcelain and soda glazed wood firing have had a profound impact upon her practice. Moving into porcelain has been a revelation, both in the refined surface quality of the material and its capacity for colour through the glaze process.
See Kay’s website here.