Susan Halls: Biting Back


Susan Halls is one of the UK’s leading figurative ceramicists.

She has been making her distinctive animal sculptures for almost forty years, firstly from the UK in the early nineties and then from America where she was based for twenty years. Her work is held in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Centre of Ceramic Art, York, and the Museum of Contemporary Ceramic Art, Shigaraki, Japan. She has also featured in numerous books and publications.

Born in 1966 in Gillingham, Kent, Halls made her first clay animal, a pig, whilst at school. Full of character and insightfully observed, it set her on a lifelong quest to
capture what she terms ‘animal truths’ in ceramic form. Driven by an obsessive need to be near animals, to own and possess them, Halls makes because she must. It
is a need not a desire. Direct representation, essence or narrative do not interest her. More, her art works are about how it feels to be an animal – the tooth, the fang,
the claw of it. Dark, brooding, mischievous or witty, Halls’ animals are perceptively and dynamically wrought. Hers are animals with bite.

Her current work, predominantly feline, draws upon her muse Mussels the cat as well as the pigs and fowl she observes in the fields and farmyards around her studio in
Poldhu, Cornwall. Though an accomplished maker, Halls is not driven by technique. She uses the full spectrum of ceramic processes as she needs, effortlessly switching
from hand building to wheel throwing, majolica painting to scraffito, raku to stoneware firing, to bring her drawings to life in clay. Her unsentimental animal forms captivate in full living, breathing, majesty, appearing ready to spring into grunting, purring or squawking life.

Biting Back is Halls’ first solo show in the UK for over thirty years.

Curated by Sharon Blakey and Alex McErlain
Photography: Shannon Toft

13/07 – 29/09/2024

Work from the Ceramic Collection featured in this exhibition

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