Angela Evans, ceramicist

Profile on a local artist written for Viva Brighton magazine:

I meet ceramicist Angela Evans in her garden studio, at the back of the house she grew up in, near Preston Park. “It was my mum and dad’s house,” she says. “When they were getting elderly, they needed somebody to be around during the day, so I built the shed.” It feels a little more magical than a shed; it’s a charming space, filled with moulds and unglazed casts, and quirky pieces of “flotsam and jetsam” that she’s gathered over the years.

The studio faces out into the garden, where Angela’s father used to tend a vegetable patch. “He retired quite young, really,” she says. “He was 50 when he had me, and he retired at 60, so in my early life he was around a lot and he was always gardening. A lot of my childhood memories here were shelling broad beans, watering, picking, digging up potatoes – things like that – so I have quite an affinity with vegetable growing.” It’s no wonder, then, that her work now is so interlinked with that very theme.

After doing an Art Foundation course at Brighton, Angela moved up to London where she took a “brilliant course at the City Lit, called the Bridging Course in Art & Design. It was run by proper practising artists, and I just learnt so much: painting, photography, drawing. I’ve always liked to do a bit of everything.” When she moved back down to Brighton, she applied to study 3D Design, a course which explored woods, metals, plastics and ceramics. “By the time I finished my degree, I was working mainly in ceramics, collecting textures – that was my thing.”

For one of her degree show pieces, Angela cast “a huge area of carrot tops made in clay, which I walked through with my bare feet when it was still wet. I took loads of casts of skin and leaves and all kinds of objects. Then, when I graduated, I had to think about actually getting some work. I got a place at Balls Pond Studio with Kate Malone, quite a famous ceramicist, and I started experimenting with making 3D tiles. I remember I went into a tile shop with a really huge blackberry tile – it was enormous, the man who ran the shop couldn’t believe it – but luckily he was really interested in working with artists. He advised me to make them the right thickness and dimensions to sit with the plain tiles.”

Angela’s fruit and vegetable tiles have been a big part of her work ever since. Her collection now includes apples and pears, oranges and lemons, avocados and mange tout. Each tile is made from a cast, taken from a real-life object, so every one is to-scale (save for a small amount of shrinkage when the plaster sets). The tiles are glazed and then hand-painted to a beautifully realistic finish. The detail, down to the thread-like roots of a spring onion, is picked up during the process: “I occasionally have to work in a bit of detail,” Angela says, “but not often. It’s all in the plaster. I’m completely addicted to plaster.”