Saturday 19th November 2016 marked the opening of the highly anticipated second exhibition of ceramics by Danish potter Anne Mette Hjortshøj. A potter whose work is as gentle, warming, and generous as its maker, Hjortshøj has been assiduously setting aside her very best pots of the last four years since her inaugural Goldmark show, making for a collection of phenomenal character and quality.
Born and brought up on the Danish mainland, Anne Mette now throws and fires from the serene west coast of Bornholm, a small island in the Baltic Sea just off the southern tip of Sweden. One of the first students to be admitted to the local School of Glass and Ceramics after it was established, she has since set up her own studio on the island in an old 19th century farmhouse where she produces beautiful, functional wood-fired ceramics.
Denmark boasts a long line of renowned female potters from the likes of Gertrud Vasegaard to Gutte Eriksen, a mantle of craftsmanship that Anne Mette has passionately taken up. Like her forebears, she digs iron-rich clay straight from Bornholm’s coastal cliffs and underlying beaches for use in slips and glazes, resulting in pots that bear a unique, intimate, and personal touch. Though her breadth of techniques and influences stretches past 20th century Scandinavian ceramics to wares produced in Medieval Korea and beyond, her work remains eminently fresh and modern.
Since her first show with Goldmark in 2012, Anne Mette’s international reputation has grown and grown. After the gallery’s feature-length documentary on her life as a potter was broadcast on Danish national television, she has since welcomed the Queen of Denmark on a royal visitation, fellow potters eager to try out her local materials, and countless students of ceramics seeking apprenticeship in her new workshop.
The pots from this exhibition represent four years’ determined dedication, from early survivors of battles with a nascent new wood kiln to pieces judiciously selected as most special among their peers. In these pots Anne Mette combines surface and form with exquisite care: tall, oblong bottles, brushed with thick white slip, become three-dimensional landscape canvases; salt-fired jugs and lidded jars, dappled with cobalt, crimson and gunmetal glaze pits, recall snow falling on cold Bornholm evenings or the shimmer of surf on the nearby sea.
With a staggering 379 pots, this exhibition is one of the largest and most moving the Goldmark Gallery has had the honour of hosting.
All work will be available to view and buy in the gallery and online at goldmarkart.com. A 64-page catalogue with photography by Jay Goldmark and essay by critic David Whiting will accompany the exhibition.