Working from her secluded garden studio in North Wales, Bev Bell Hughes’ work is informed by the coastline and landscape of her home in Conwy Bay. An area of beach known as ‘Y Morfa’, this salt marsh is a favourite paddling and walking place amongst locals and plays an integral part in the development of Bev’s work.
Working not from sketching, notes or photographs, Bev’s process is one of looking. Hours spent observing nature is translated by her subconscious in her studio through a sense of touch. This notion of looking is made even more poignant as Bev has been visually impaired since birth, and clay has become a way of understanding the physical world. The importance of this sense of touch can be seen and felt in the final works, and experiencing them physically, through both sight and touch, is integral to fully understanding the energy Bev hopes to instill in the work.
Intuitively pinching the clay, Bev believes that a ‘good pot’ is one that is not overworked, but one that ‘is fresh and instinctively tells you about its materials’ and her sculptural forms are not preconceived. Using with a combination of flattened coils, press moulds and pinching, she warps the clay with her fingers until she senses the shape is right, working her way around the form to ensure the freshness of the marks is retained. The work is an emotive response to the process of nature, rippling and fluttering as an echo of the water and sand on her beloved Morfa beach. It is this particular sensitivity to nature, touch and the act of looking is what makes Bev’s work so wonderfully sensorial and perceptive, work that demands not just to be ‘handled’ or ‘seen’, but held, felt and experienced, as one experiences the sea when a shell is held to your ear.