Approved: 29.10.2012

Kay Aplin

Artist, Curator, Maker

Approved: 29.10.2012

I am an architectural ceramist with a background in site-specific work predominantly for the public realm. Since graduating from Chelsea College of Art in 1995, I have undertaken numerous commissions around the UK and internationally, producing a distinct range of art works that have stood the tests of weather and time.

My work involves creating permanent installations in a wide range of media,

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    Artist Statement

    I am an architectural ceramist with a background in site-specific work predominantly for the public realm. Since graduating from Chelsea College of Art in 1995, I have undertaken numerous commissions around the UK and internationally, producing a distinct range of art works that have stood the tests of weather and time. My work involves creating permanent installations in a wide range of media, especially ceramics, glass and mosaic. Examples of my previous projects include sculptures, wall reliefs, floorscapes, water features, decorative seating and architectural features for new builds. My designs are situated in a variety of urban and rural locations, such as parks, gardens, playgrounds, hospitals, schools and town centres. I usually design for outdoor sites, but some of my commissions have been indoors. To date, clients have included 9 local authorities, 3 NHS Trusts, 10 foundations, 15 festivals and approximately 40 schools. My projects typically involve collaboration with others, for example, public bodies, architects, contractors, engineers and landscape architects. There is usually also significant community involvement. I have wide experience in running creative projects with groups of all ages and abilities. I also undertake commissions for private and corporate clients, specialising in ceramic, glass and mosaic applications for interiors and gardens. Recent commissions include ceramic features for internal and external walls, kitchens, fireplaces, conservatories, tiled surrounds for entrances and gateposts. My work responds to the environment for which it is intended. The concept or narrative is evolved from place and recurring themes are found in observing detail and pattern within nature and architecture. I like working in ceramic relief, since this gives an added dimension to the overall sculptural form. My work is very tactile and sensory, inviting the passer-by to touch, as well as look, giving an interactive quality to a visually stimulating piece. Colour, texture and ambitious scale are defining features of my work. I have recently completed community involvement commissions for Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace including a commission for a wedding present for the Royal Wedding and a series of “Tudor Symbols” ceramic reliefs for Hampton Court Palace Gardens. As well as continuing to work on commissions of relatively short duration, there is one longer-term project that I am currently engaged in called The Ceramic House. This is a large-scale, personal project, which began in 2011 and will continue to develop over the coming years. The Ceramic House is my home that I am transforming into a work of art and making a permanent showcase of my ceramic and glass creations. During the annual Brighton Festival, I convert my house and garden into a ceramics gallery that is open to the public. It is not just my work that is exhibited at The Ceramic House at this time, however. Each year, I invite a selection of international established and emerging ceramists to display their work in the context of my own installations, thereby offering an overview of contemporary ceramic practice. Please refer to the dedicated website

    CV & Education


    With 18 years experience of producing public art commissions, I specialise in external works in durable materials such as architectural ceramics, glass and mosaic. I have extensive experience collaborating with design teams, public bodies, architects, contractors and landscape architects, and leading consultation processes with community stakeholders. I also undertake private commissions for corporate and domestic spaces.

    Clients include 9 Local Authorities, 3 NHS Trusts, 10 foundations, 14 festivals and approximately 40 schools.

    Current Project The Ceramic House

    The Ceramic House is an evolving personal project whereby I am transforming my home into a permanent showcase of my work. I curate international shows of ceramic art in this context, each May during the Brighton Festival and for the first time this year also at Christmas. This year we won the award of Best Open House following a widely acclaimed exhibition in May with 21 leading ceramic artists. 2014 will see the first themed exhibition: Danish Contemporary Ceramics at The Ceramic House.

    Qualifications and Training 

    1995 - BA (Hons) Public Art and Design, Chelsea College of Art, London

    1990 - Foundation in Art and Design, Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design

    Public Realm Commssions

    2010 - Canals for the Community, British Waterways, Stoke on Trent

    2009 - Llanbradach Follies, Caerphilly County Borough Council, Llanbradach, Wales 

    2008 - Cawdor Court, Bolton at Home, Farnworth, Bolton

    2007 - Gorebridge Community Development Trust, Gorebridge Care Home, Gorebridge, Midlothian, Scotland

    2005 - Blackberry Hill Hospital, Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust, Bristol

    2004 - Gorseinon Regeneration Scheme, Penyrheol Secondary School, Gorseinon, South West Wales

    2003 - Lead Artist, Community Gateways, Bargoed Woodland Park, Bargoed, South Wales 

    2002 - Burdon Moor, Gateshead Council, Gateshead 

    Participatory Commissions

    2012 - Jubilee- A View from the Crowd, Historic Royal Palaces, Kensington Palace 

    2011 - Blue and White China project, Historic Royal Palaces, Kensington Palace, London 

    2011 - Common Sounds Queens HEAD plates exhibition, Commonwealth Institute, Kensington, London

    2011 - Royal Wedding Commemorative Project, Historic Royal Palaces, Kensington Palace, London

    2011 - Tudor Symbols, Historic Royal Palaces, Hampton Court Palace

    2010 - Paddock Stools, Olnafirth Primary School, Voe, Shetland 

    2010 - St Michael's School Wall Relief, St Michael's School, Herefordshire 

    2009 - Welingborough Artist in Residence, Wellingborough Council, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire

    2003 - Swimming pool ceramic relief, Clissold Leisure Centre, Stoke Newington, London

    2001 - Ceramic building facade, Wooden Spoon House Child Health Centre, Elephant and Castle, London 

    2001 - Magic Me intergenerational commission, Teviot Community Centre, Poplar, London

    Exhibitions (selected)

    2013 - The Clay, Albrectsens Gallery, Copenhagen

    2012 - Wicked Love, Red Red Shoes Contemporary Art Gallery, London

    2011 - Twisted, Phoenix Brighton Gallery, Brighton

    2010 - Brooke Gallery, Budleigh Salterton  

    Residencies (selected)

    2013 - Artist in Residence, Guldagergaard Ceramic Research Centre, Denmark

    2006 - Artcorps artist in residence, Riecken Foundation, Quiche, Guatemala

    1999 - Artist in Residence, Lavuk Youth Club, Copenhagen, Denmark

    Private Commissions

    2013 - Exterior architectural tiled features for private home, Asturias, Spain

    2013 - Kitchen backsplashes, Brighton

    2013 - Conservatory feature, Brighton

    2013 - Conservatory features, Devon

    2012 - Fireplace, Devon

    2011 - Tudor Wall Relief, Garden, Lewes, Sussex

    2011 - Garden ceramic features, Brighton

    2005 - Bathroom stained glass windows, London

    2004 - Stained glass panels, Devon 

    Community engagement

    Process-led community involvement is integral to my working method. I have run creative projects, workshops and residencies with groups of all ages and abilities. Participants include:

    Primary, secondary, special schools and college students

    Adult education

    People physical and mental disabilities, behavioural problems, deaf blind and visually and hearing impaired.

    People with mental health problems

    Refugees, homeless people, intergenerational groups, women’s groups.

    Cultural minority and indigenous groups, and diverse religious groups.

    Lead Artist and Management Roles

    I have lead on several projects in order to ensure the project has been delivered to brief, on time and on budget.  Skills include devising briefs, concepts and strategies, commissioning and leading artists, coordinating large scale projects and events, fundraising, budgeting, production, marketing and publicity.

    Lead artist, “Community Gateways”, Caerphilly County Borough Council, 2003                                                         

    Education Animateur, Stoke Newington Festival, 2001-2002                                                                                                 

    Art animateur, City of London Festival, 2002                                                                                                                        

    Co-founded and co-directed the following arts organizations:

    Art-O-Matic (1997–2007). Celebratory visual art projects in the community. With artist Cristina Ottonello.

    Glamfrocker (1999-2004). Arts entertainment events. With animator Mark Gregory.

    IDEA (1997-1999). Visual art projects with schools. With artist Maria Mencia.