The Brighton artist showing that ceramics are more than just pots and bowls
When artist and curator Kay Aplin tells people she is an architectural ceramicist, people always assume one thing.
“People just think I make pots,” she said.“But they tend to call themselves potters.“I don’t even know how to throw down.“What I do is used in or on buildings. I like textures and create three dimensional tiles. When I say tiles people just think of the square ones you get in bathrooms but it is more than that.”
Kay graduated in public art and design from Chelsea College of Art in 1995, where she specialised in glass and ceramics.“You got to use different disciplines on the course and we took two weeks to focus on one so I went and worked with the ceramics department.“I enjoyed working with glass but as my main body of work is in the public sphere it has to be vandal proof so glass doesn’t lend itself to it really.”
As well creating pieces for public spaces, such as parks or housing developments, Kay uses her home as an exhibition space.
She said: “I moved to Brighton in 2008 and my neighbour was an artist who opened his house.“He suggested I do it, but as a public artist my work is permanently somewhere so I had to create something to showcase.”
Kay started with her bathroom, and adds another room each year. She says it means her home ‘evolves each time’ as she adds to her work. Her garage has been turned into a gallery and she uses her office as a space to sell the tiles.“People always think that my office is where I work but I use the studio space at Phoenix, I have three rooms which means I can work on larger pieces.“Being an artist can be very lonely, Phoenix is always busy which means I can be surrounded by people.”
Alongside the public space art work Kay also takes on commissions.“People see what I have done in my home and ask for tiles for their kitchen or conservatory.”
One surprising thing for Kay after opening the doors to her home was she became a curator.“It isn’t something I expected to happen but I began to curate ceramics to showcase,” she said.“I have done a couple of projects one was on Korean ceramics. I went there and met with artists and looked at the work they were producing.“The artists came and stayed with me, they loved being in the space.”
The next project she is working on will be showcased in 2021 and will focus on China.“I am really excited about it and will be going on my first visit soon to see what is out there,” she explained.
Kay collaborates with her partner Joseph Young who is a sound artist combining sound with her ceramics on her projects.
After doing a number of Artist Open Houses (which takes place in May) Kay decided to keep her house open throughout the year.“It is by appointment only but I like that people can come and be inspired by the work I do,” she said.
Artists staying with Kay also led her to offer the Ceramic House as accommodation to other visitors to Brighton.“I remember putting my home on Airbnb when hardly anyone else was on there. I am on booking.com as well.“People love staying here and being surrounded by art.“I get booked up really quickly over the summer.”