Born in 1967, I began my career as a ceramicist after completing a degree at Brighton Art College in 1990. Prior to this I studied at Middlesex University from 1986-87.
My interest in making began in early teens, when introduced to ceramics by a family friend. This early experience led to a larger deeper interest in making forms with clay. At the age of sixteen I began to study art. My early work took the form of ceramic sculptural vessels. In 2003 I abandoned the vessel altogether and began making sculpture based on the human figure.
Born partly from my family experience, I have a commitment to inspiring younger generations to create and articulate their understanding of the human condition. An example of this was the staged construction of a walkway of seven sculptures in the grounds of a local Academy school. Part time teaching has enabled me to sustain my studio practice.
My work and life have been influenced by my fascination with Buddhism. A good friend and influence on my interest has been a young Tibetan man called Kalu Rimpoche. He is what I affectionately call my ‘Dharma dude’(which I think he quite likes).
My older brother died in 1998 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. We were incredibly close. I witnessed the effect that losing their firstborn had upon my parents. My mother died from ovarian cancer shortly after and all in all, I spent every evening and weekend for three years in oncology wards. I shared a house and studio with an Irish abstract painter. We were great friends. He died from lung cancer (among the most brutal of the deaths that I witnessed). My uncle and aunt died and finally my father developed Alzheimer’s and died a year or so later leaving me literally the last man standing. Thankfully I had my wife and thee children.
I withdrew from the world just as my sculpture career was soaring. I had won awards and was exhibiting in great galleries.
This is not a plea for sympathy. Quite the reverse! In time I became able to see the great gift that all that suffering had finally presented. It was the gift of perspective. I could see life in terms of ‘’death bed regrets’. I could see clearly, the things that truly matter in life. I know, for example, that there are a finite number of times that I will be able to walk my kids to school and so I relish every moment and am utterly present with them when I do.
I try to express in my work lessons learned through my interest in Buddhism. The importance of living in the present moment rather than unnecessary dwellings in the past or trying to figure out what the future will look like. I am intrigued by the notion of an ego or self, constructed of memories of our experiences of life and distinct from that, a consciousness that is connected to everything in the universe.
Find John here: fb/johnwilliamssculpture/