Kay Aplin has been working in architectural ceramics for 22 years, after graduating in public art and design from Chelsea College of Art and Design in 1995. During this time she has had many commissions around the UK and internationally, producing a distinct range of public realm art works that have stood the tests of weather and time. In recent years she has also been working on private commissions for gardens and interiors and creating installation pieces for galleries and exhibitions. Since 2008 she has been based in Brighton and works from her studio at Phoenix Brighton.
Aplin’s work responds to place. The concept or narrative is evolved from the surrounding environment and recurring themes are found through observing detail and pattern within nature and architecture.
“I am inspired by the spectacular. Within my work, I strive to achieve a sense of exuberance through colour, texture and ambitious scale. The overall impact of the finished piece is paramount, as is craftsmanship and attention to detail. 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.”
2013 marked a significant change for Kay when she undertook a residency at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Centre in Denmark, heralding a new direction for her practice. Explorations into new techniques of slip casting porcelain and soda wood firing resulted in the creation of Botanical Structures, a body of work in response to the Danish summer landscape. Combining oxidized and soda wood fired porcelain; various versions have been exhibited in the UK and as part of European Ceramic Context 2014 in Denmark as well as commissioned privately.
Throughout 2016, Aplin collaborated with sound artist Joseph Young on Landscape : Islands, an exploration into ceramics and sound. Following a residency in Shetland, they created the installation In A Shetland Landscape, at Shetland Museum and Archives, a response to the Shetland landscape, which transferred to the new project space In Camera Gallery at The Ceramic House. As part of the project, The Ceramic House hosted residencies for two pairs of ceramic and sound artists who collaborated in the creation of new work for an exhibition at Phoenix Brighton for Brighton Digital Festival. A touring show then travelled around the South East of England.
Aplin travelled to Korea to research the project Made in Korea in 2016, and in addition to visiting the artists in their studios, galleries, museums and ceramic residency centres, she gathered information towards making a new body of work for Made in Korea, which will be unveiled at Sladmore Contemporary July 12th-28th and also displayed at British Ceramics Biennial in the autumn.
Since 2011 Kay has been developing her project The Ceramic House – her home and a living showcase of her work. Each year she curates exhibitions of international contemporary ceramics in May during the Brighton Festival. In 2013 it was voted Best Open House and its reputation as a gallery for ceramic art of the highest quality in a unique domestic context is growing year on year.
Kay Aplin graduated in 1995 from Chelsea College of Art, specialising in ceramics and glass. An architectural ceramist, she creates site-specific commissions for the public realm and large-scale tiled installations. Exhibitions include Kogei Triennial Kanazawa, Japan, European Ceramic Context, Denmark, Elit-Tile Triennial, Dominican Republic, Seoul Art Space Mullae, Korea, British Ceramics Biennial and Collect, Saatchi Gallery, London.
In 2011, Kay initiated the award-winning project The Ceramic House, a pop-up gallery space, her home and a living showcase of her work, where she curates exhibitions of contemporary ceramics, featuring the work of emerging and leading international ceramists. Since 2016, The Ceramic House has become a centre for research into collaborative ceramic and sound art practice with an ongoing international residency and exhibition programme.
Kay’s work responds to place and observing detail and pattern in flora. Her process often involves using a microscope to uncover hidden details in plants which are magnified to reveal highly textured designs. In recent years, she has been experimenting with wood firing, the unique effects of which are perfectly suited for her botanically-themed porcelain tile-based work.