Approved: 05.02.2012

Jonathan Roberts

Artist, Curator, Art historian, Writer, Lecturer / academic

Approved: 05.02.2012

Smile widely, look knowingly and burp.

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  • Location: Chesterfield, East Midlands
  • Activities: Lecturing, Art historical research, Critical writing, Curating, Visual arts consultancy
  • Categories: Ceramics, Digital, Painting, Performance, Sculpture




    Smile widely, look knowingly and burp.

    I like to have fun, to play with perceptions of what is real, and what is implied. To sit at the table with the actress and the Bishop, nudge the tea cosy and ask why we do things in the way we do.

    ‘You can do a lot of things at the seaside that you can’t do in the town’ ring the words of the music hall song of the same name, that goes on to applaud the ‘things that you can do there without impunity’.

    I spent many hours watching the world go by whilst selling candyfloss and rock on the, now demolished, Ocean Beach Fun Fair in Rhyl. Trying to work out what the collective for the hoards of visitors could be… a herd, a gaggle, a storm?

    I smile often, when thinking about those days, and how they shape my view of the world. Often wondering what happens when the collective go home, and present the sugar penis to grandma, bought in the holiday spirit, caught up in their holiday world.

    “I can’t see my little Wille’ reads the caption on a comic postcard by Donald McGill, who was charged with breaking the obscenity laws in 1954. However, who is obscene? The two unassociated elements of a small child called Willie, hidden from view by the large belly of the man who states the caption, or the mind of the viewer who connects the two elements?

    I work with a range of materials, usually clay or plaster, and make them bend their truth. Clay, mixed with concrete implies its virtue of worth as fired ceramic. Plaster forms solidify in a seemingly abstract form that disguises the figurative nature of my work. A figurative nature that references the humour within the art of comic postcards, look closely, you may discover the joke.

    I also paint and draw, and often perform live, or create comedy films as part of the F.B.I. or the C.I.A., both art experiments that I initiated with long time collaborators, or as part of ‘Meaty Flavour’, again a long time collaboration.

    My sister was Prestatyn carnival queen, spending many processions clinging onto the bonnet of our family car, looking beautiful before the watching crowd. Whilst I entertained the crowd, dressed as though riding an ostrich, picking at flowers on the back of the car with my puppet beak.

    I now enjoy playing with the context of gender, particularly my role as a male. A role compounded, as within comic postcards, to be the butt of the joke.

    Throughout all of my work I live by the advice given to me by my son whilst looking to him for the title of an article, as he sat on my knee at the age of four months in 1999: Smile widely, look knowingly and burp.

    CV & Education

    Qualifications and training

    2011 - MA Fine Art, Nottingham Trent University, Notts

    2008 - PGCE, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield

    1998 - PGDip History of Ceramics, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent

    1992 - HND Ceramics, NEWI Clwyd College of Art, Wrexham

    Group exhibitions

    2015 - "QWERTY Bar" National Galleriet, Stockholm

    2015 - "The Nottingham Interlude" Surface Gallery, Nottingham.

    2014 - "The Worksop Interlude" Frank Bobbins Institute, Worksop.

    2014 - "Exchange Rates" Fireproof, Bushwick, New York.

    2014 - "Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep" Frank Bobbins Institute, Worksop

    2014 - "We Love You All X X' performance, Scriptures album launce, Lace Market Gallery, Nottingham.

    2013 - Sluice Art Fair, London

    2013 - 'All Fur Coat, no Knickers", Frank Bobbins Institute, Worksop

    2013 - Little Wolf Parade "Home", Great Notts Show, Nottingham

    2012 - "Six By Four", Motorcade/FlashParade, Bristol

    2012 - Mullitover, Artist Residence, Brighton

    2012 - Scan It, Gallery40, Brighton

    2011 - MA Stars, Bonnington Gallery, Nottingham

    2011 - Off Beige exhibition, Beaconsfield Studios, Brighton

    2011 - Prism 10, Orchard Centre, Sheffield

    1996 - Ceramic Contemporaries 2, V&A Museum, London

    1996 - Fletcher Challenge , Ceramic Award, New Zealand

    1993 - Ceramic Contemporaries 1, V&A Museum, London


    2015 - "Big Field" written with Darren Dutton

    2015 - "Guinea P and Medesin Rabit Picnic"

    2015 - "Sausages"

    2015 - "The Sausage Factory"

    2015 - "Cut Piece"

    2010 - "Romantic Interlude" written with Darren Dutton

    2010 - "The Fruit Interview" written with Darren Dutton

    2010 - "Steve Jones Song" written with Darren Durron

    2010 - "Phone Dating" written with Darren Dutton

    2008 - "Beef and Eggs" written with Darren Dutton

    2005 - "Frank Vibrations"

    2005 - "Keep Fit" written with Darren Dutton

    Curated projects:

    2015 (ongoing) - "The Value Game" ongoing touring experiment.

    2015 - "The Interlude" F.B.I. at Bushwick, as part of Sluice Exchange Rates.

    2014 - "The Worksop Interlude" Frank Bobbins Institute, Worksop

    2014 - "Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep" Frank Bobbins Institute, Worksop

    2013 - Outrageously Pretentious: The Second Coming, Over + Out, Lincoln

    2012 - Outrageously Pretentious: A One Night Stand, Bloc Projects, Sheffield

    2001 - Ewen Henderson, Rufford Ceramic Centre, Notts

    Artist talks

    2012 - Beacon Bi-Monthly, Beacon Arts, Lincolnshire

    2012 - With Humourous Intent, Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno

    Public commissions

    1999 - Collection Identification, Rufford Ceramic Centre, Notts

    1998 - Collection Identification, Rufford Ceramic Centre, Notts

    Educational experience - tertiary

    1998 - Lecturer (current position), North Nottinghamshire College, Worksop


    2012 - Paint Pant, Garageland 13

    2009 - "Towards an Identity", Earthmarque.

    2009 - Rocking the Boat, Ceramic Review 2001 - 'Ewen Henderson', An Essay.

    2000 - 'Emma Rodgers' A Review, The Ceramic Planet.

    2000 - 'Mavericks' (Garyson Perry, Geoff Fuller, Steve Keegan) The Ceramic Planet.

    2000 - 'Minimal Objects', Crafts Magazine.

    1999 - 'Pots From France', Ceramic Review

    1995 - 'The Incoherent Ramblings of a Four Month Old Child', The Ceramic Planet

    1995 - Writer of Artists Profiles, Rufford Ceramic Centre Website