David Seeger
Ceramic Artist: Sculptor, Painter, Ceramicist Noted for "Black Hole" Series.

For years, Seeger has explored the
interplay of surface and illusion that
can be created by using reflective
mirror lustres, transparent high gloss
or opaque silk-smooth areas of colour. Sometimes, by metaphorically cutting
open the volume of the vessel, he
breaks the boundary between inside
and outside. In the "Black Hole" series
of jars he draws attention to the dark
interior within the rim of the pot, by
depicting other "holes" elsewhere on
the surface. This creates an ambiguity
and interchangability between surface
and volume.

David Seeger (b.1937)

A pioneer in contemporary ceramic art for several decades, Seeger is a profound thinker as well as a master craftsman. A student of philosophy, Jungian psychology, and theories about the creative process, his sculpture highlights the ambiguity and interchangability between surface and volume, and often stimulates the tactile sense, alongside the visual senses of colour, shape and form. As a counterpoint to the methodical practice of ceramics, he also works in oil paints, drawing and other direct media. Latterly, in both his ceramics and paintings, he seeks to express his fascination with the implications of the "New Physics" - specifically quantum theory, where the certainty of the "uncertainty principle" prevails.

Over the years, in parallel with his personal ceramic practice, he taught at the Leeds College of Art /Leeds Polytechnic, was occasional visitor to The Royal College of Art, London, participated in several innovative crafts projects, and gained a coveted Black Belt in Aikido. His works have been exhibited widely throughout the UK and on the Continent, and are represented in numerous public and private collections. Since 1990, he has lived and worked in West Cork, Ireland.

Although his avant-garde explorations place him firmly within the 'tradition' of postmodernism, his relentless search for meaning as well as his mastery of the rigorous trial-and-error discipline of ceramic glazing and firing, lends his work the timeless edge of a Renaissance sculptor.

Seeger's studio output includes a
range of ceramic pots, vessels and
sculpture, as well as oil paintings,
sculpture, drawing & photography.
In his clay work he uses white
stoneware clay, and a variety of
unique glazes, adapted from
numerous sources, including
J.Llorens Artigas' "Formulario y
practicas de Ceramica". Techniques
used are: Hand thrown, turned
cut, incised and painted
stoneware fired to 1260’ degrees,
with high temperature colours and
glazes. Then lustres and precious
metals on-glaze, re-fired to
700-800 degrees. Masking is done
with latex.

Seeger's "Enfoldings for Building" paintings (oil on canvas, 2006), are
a series of six paintings exploring
ideas suggested by philosopher
David Bohm's propositions about
the 'implicate order'. The cube-like
forms featured in the picture change
as one watches, to be read in two
or more ways as time unfolds, both
transparent and solid. When one
version becomes explicit, all others,
though still there, are out of sight.

For more about the different types,
styles and values of traditional and
contemporary visual art, see:
Definition of Art.

For details of Irish abstract
painters and sculptors, see:
Abstract Artists Ireland.


After attending school in Bradford alongside his contemporary David Hockney, during which time both were obliged, effectively, to teach themselves art, Seeger entered the ground-breaking experiment in art education at Leeds directed by Harry Thubron, which concentrated on Twentieth Century modernist concepts: Post-Impressionism, Cubism, the Bauhaus, abstract art, colour theory and drawing (1955-61). Hockney by contrast, began his career elsewhere studying traditional drawing and painting in the academic style. During the period 1959-61, Seeger exhibited his abstract works at the Young Contemporaries Exhibition, in London, was selected to show at Gimpel Fils Gallery - where he sold his first sculpture for £30 - and showed at the Artists International Association Gallery, London.

In 1962, he worked with Hubert Dalwood (1924-1976), as his technical assistant on large-scale abstract sculptures, developing a method of mold making that transformed the intrinsic plastic qualities of wet clay into cast aluminium. In 1964, he received commissions to make several large-scale sculptures using similar casting methods, but with ciment fondue as the final material.

In the same year, he began teaching fine art at Leeds College of Art (later becoming incorporated as part of Leeds Polytechnic). Along with colleagues including Alan Green (1932-2003), Patrick Hughes (b.1939) and Robin Page (b.1932), he extended the course content developed to include Surrealist and Dada ideas used by artists like Marcel Duchamp, the Belgian painter Rene Magritte (1898-1967), the Dutch printmaker MC Escher (1898-1972), and the Polish-French graphic artist Hans Bellmer (1902-75). In this way, the focus shifted from abstract colour, form and space, towards subject-matter and idea, and also encouraged greater use of subconscious sources of inspiration.


Seeger's two-piece Invertable Jars
are abstract sculptures but with an
occasional practical purpose. The
upper vessel, which may be used
as a vase, is made to be touched
and held. It may be placed at any
angle, or held in the hands for
close-up contemplation, like the
tea bowl in the hand of the tea
master. It is good to experience
the tactile sense, alongside the
visual senses of colour, shape
and form. Then, the top may be
replaced - inverted into the base
holder, so the piece becomes
transformed into a unified whole.
Closed, still and complete.


For biographies of other
contemporary ceramic artists, see:

Jane Jermyn
Abstract organic forms.

Ayelet Lalor
Figurative ceramic sculptures in
porcelain, earthenware, bronze.

Sara Roberts
Porcelain wall hangings.

From 1966 to 1970, Seeger participated in a number of significant art projects, including a stint with the composer Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981), on a realisation of a number of works by the avant-garde American composer and early Conceptual artist John Cage (1912-92). This involved improvised instruments, the I-Ching (the Chinese Book of Changes) and the positive attributes of silence. There was no visual component, nevertheless, as Seeger says: "one's visual awareness was expanded." Much of the time the works were performed without audience, creating a very intense introverted and private experience for all participants. [Note: This mode of "inner experiencing" is essential to fully appreciate Seeger's recent ceramics and paintings.]

Strongly influenced by these innovative ways of thinking, Seeger began producing a range of complex slip-cast ceramic objects, using silver lustre to create the appearance of space in the mirror-like surface.

In works like Inside-out Teapot, and Kline Bottle, in which philosophical ideas were given material expression, he employed ceramic forms as sculpture and painting simultaneously. He was able to pass on some of this cutting-edge experience as tutor and technical coach at Leeds to several successful applicants (including Carol McNicoll [b.1943]) to the Royal College of Art and other postgraduate faculties. During this period he also tutored at Barry Summer School in Wales, where he conducted a project on aerial sculpture, with kites, parachutes, balloons, fire and smoke. It was here that he first became acquainted with the martial arts discipline Aikido, in which he later become an instructor, gaining a Black Belt in 1983.

For the world's oldest
known ceramic pottery, see:
Xianrendong Cave Pottery
(18,000 BCE).

In 1973, he exhibited at Southampton City Art Gallery. Several pieces sold, including pieces to the Gallery collection and to the collection of Portsmouth City Art Gallery. His works were also represented at the Cleveland Drawing Biennale (Middlesborough), and at the Bradford City Art Gallery, Temple Newsam House (Leeds), Sheffield Polytechnic Gallery, Camden Arts Centre (London), and Park Square Gallery (Leeds). In addition, during ongoing research, he also unearthed sixteenth century Oribe pottery, among Japanese books in the Victoria and Albert library, unavailable elsewhere or in English until many years later. Made for the traditional tea ceremony, under the direction of the tea-master Furuta Oribe, this pottery was a form of expressionist gestural artwork which predated its European counterpart by more than three hundred years.

In 1978-9, he participated in The State of Clay exhibition, sponsored by the UK Arts Council and the Crafts Council, which toured many venues in the UK and Scandinavia. In 1982, he began studying the psychology of Carl Jung (1875-1961), along with theories about the creative process and the phenomenon of subconscious imaging in dreams and imagination, and their significance, during a 2-year Diploma course at the Centre for Transpersonal Psychology in London.

His explorations were reignited in 1985, after seeing an exhibition of works by the Russian-born painter Marc Chagall (1887-1985) at the Royal Academy. Taking a sabbatical Masters degree at Birmingham Polytechnic Department of Art Education, he wrote an in-depth thesis of Chagall’s life and work, employing Jungian concepts to reveal insights into the meaning of Chagall's use of characters and images from memory - notably the "autobiographical" references of these pictorial motifs.

In 1988, after a quarter of a century teaching and lecturing at art schools throughout the UK, Seeger left education to concentrate full time on his art practice. He showed his works at the inaugural show at the Oscar Raymond Gallery in Greater Manchester, selling six of them to the collector Edward Bramah, for the Bramah Tea and Coffee Museum at Tower Hill, London. The items also featured in Bramah’s illustrated book on the subject.

In 1990, Seeger moved to West Cork where he built and equipped a new house with studio space for his ceramic practice. Since then, he has been elected a member of the West Cork Craft & Design Guild and has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in venues across Ireland including: the Glebe Gallery, Baltimore (2002); the Alliance Francais Gallery, Cork (2003); the Grain Store Gallery, Schull (2003, 2008); the Bridge Gallery, Dublin (2003-6); the Radharc Gallery, Skibbereen (2006-7); Doolin Crafts, Co Clare (2007); The Cat And The Moon Gallery, Sligo (2007).

In 2008 he has exhibited at the Space Craft Gallery, Belfast,The Alpha House Gallery, Sherborne, Dorset, UK, and was selected for the first competitive Ceramics Sculpture Exhibition, at the Hallward Gallery, Dublin. He has also participated in several shows with the West Cork Craft & Design Guild.

Contact Details

To contact David Seeger, please visit the West Cork Craft & Design Guild's website: www.westcorkcraft.org

• For more about applied arts in Ireland, see: Irish Art Guide.
• For details of famous creative practitioners, see Irish Artists: Painters and Sculptors.
• See also: Contemporary Irish Artists.
• For more information about modern ceramic art, see: Homepage.

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