Nicholas Lees

‘I am intrigued in exploring the boundaries between shadows and light, in optical illusion and how to manifest these qualities in clay.’ Placed in relationship to each other, the pieces take on a kinetic quality appearing to shift and move in optical illusions of light and shadow.

Nicholas Lees is a sculptor working in clay. His works begin as thick walled, hand thrown vessels. When these are leather dry, they are skilfully turned by him on a lathe, a process which requires huge patience and skill.

‘This series of work evolved out of research for an MPhil by project at the Royal College of Art. In considering transitions between two and three dimensions in the production of artworks, I looked at shadows and silhouettes and became interested in the penumbra – half shadow, half light. I am making a series of optical vessels embodying a penumbra of material, an uncertain presence that captures a dialogue between solidity and ephemerality. The objects have a dynamic relationship with space, light and the body of the viewer. The perception of their presence constantly shifts according to variations in these factors.’

Lees’ work has been exhibited widely in the UK and overseas and is held in private and public collections including York City Art Gallery, Westerwald Keramikmuseum in Germany and Royal Caribbean International. He has won several awards including 3rd prize at the Premio Faenza (Italy) in 2003, the National Sculpture Award from the Bluecoat Display Centre in Liverpool in 2010 and the Desmond Preston Prize for Excellence in Drawing at the RCA in 2012. He worked as a Senior Lecturer at Bath Spa University between 2000 and 2010 and as a Visiting Lecturer since 2010. He also works as a visiting lecturer at the RCA and UCA Farnham.