“The pots in this exhibition represent the best of the last four firings. They were fired at the back of the fireboxes of my two cross draught wood fired kilns. These are the choicest but also most high risk places in the kiln. For four out of five days of firing wood is stoked onto and around the pots. Many do not survive. They are continuously buried in embers, emerging only to be buried again. This prolonged exposure to high temperature, embers and ash completely changes the shino, celadon and kaki glazes, resulting in extraordinary colours and movement.”
Born in Uganda to Danish parents in 1946, Bayer lived in East Africa until the age of 15. He did not develop any particular interest in pottery there and went on to study Geography and Economics at Exeter University between 1965 and 1968. Fired by practical rather than intellectual concerns, Bayer made a science of wood firing, an activity moreover that extended to an almost architectural fascination with the designing and building of large kilns both at his workshop and further afield.
Technical considerations peculiar to Svend Bayer's production of domestic ware and large garden pots have played a key role in the shaping of his wood-fired pottery. Unique to Bayer throughout the years he has worked is a body of work, hit or miss in its quantitive profusion, whose encrusted, ash-trailed or melt-mark surfaces register a tactility of texture and lend an expressive modernity (and with it kinship to 'matter' painters like Olitski in America or Tapies and Burri in Europe) to one of the oldest and therefore most traditional forms of pottery production.