Fen Textures

Fen Textures

Fen Textures is a group exhibition from local artists Carol and Bob Banks, who have been exhibiting at the gallery for over 10 years. This year is rather special because Violet Shaw, Carol's daughter, will also be part of the show. Violet is a potter in Margate, but she grew up in Soham where her late father, Peter Prigg, was a potter. Poignantly she has used one of his glaze recipes on some of the pots featured in the show.

The work includes a harmonious selection of jewellery, oil painting, pastels and pottery, that encapsulates the textures found in the local landscape.

There will be an opportunity to create ‘Fen Textures’ of your own, with a family activity in the gallery. Using air drying clay, people can impress natural materials, making their own piece of artwork to take home.


Carol Banks

Carol grew up in the Cambridgeshire fens at a time when the expectation for children was to spend all day outside, whatever the weather. During these forays she explored, gathered and collected natural objects, an activity that continues today and influences her work.

The inclusion of bog oak into some pieces of jewellery is a celebration of a naturally occurring phenomena to fenland areas. Bog oak wood is the result of ancient trees having been anaerobically preserved in the watery silt of the fens, which eventually reappear as the soil around dries out and recedes. As a child Carol remembers farmers cursing this beautiful, but very hard wood, dragging huge pieces of it to the edge of their fields. However, Carol regards this wood as another natural treasure that beautifully compliments her silver jewellery.


Bob Banks

After a career in animation, Bob has now returned to the disciplines of traditional drawing and painting. After graduating from the Berkshire School of Art & Design in 1976 he worked in leading UK advertising agencies before starting my own Video and Animation Production Company in 1988. He enjoys working quickly, mainly working in oils, pastels and iPad sketches.

Bob also use video and animation techniques to explore other aspects of the subject.

His animation work has appeared on BBC TV, ITV, Sky and won UK awards.

Bob and Carol open their studios to the public every weekend in July. 

They also work on joint projects which culminate in a joint exhibition at the Babylon Gallery, Ely. This show will explore textures in paintings, pottery and silver aptly called called 'Fenland Textures'

Click here to see more of his work

Click here to see his animation


Violet Shaw

Violet Shaw works with clay to produce rustic stoneware pieces that can be used and loved. Her inspiration comes from the landscape around her home on the Kent coast, as well as the Cambridgeshire fens where she grew up.

She has a strong focus on the traditions of English Studio Pottery and aims to explore these techniques in a contemporary way.

Born to a family of artists in Soham, she is heavily influenced by their work ethic and lifestyle. Violet’s late father ran his own studio pottery in Soham during the 80's and 90's. She feels lucky to have some of his recipes and tools that she uses every day in her own practice, as well as a selection from family friends at Prickwillow pottery, where her father was a valued production thrower.

Violet learnt  her craft properly in 2018 in Margate, mentored by Bridget McVey and Ian Parsons. She also spent time learning with other studio potters including Winchcombe Pottery in the Cotswolds.

She is now a director at Clayspace Studios in Margate where she teaches throwing and hand building, as well as working in her garden studio creating thrown stoneware functional pieces.

This collection of work is a journey through Violet’s memories of the flat fenland of her childhood. She felt the need to incorporate a degree of flatness into her forms as well as textures of the earth and plants; reeds gently swaying in the wind against a cloud-scudded sky and dark black-gold soil.

The glazes used are from recipes from Soham and Prickwillow Pottery, gleaned from a cherished Glaze Book passed on to her from Derek Andrews after his passing last year.

The pieces in this exhibition mark a journey for Violet that feels personal and true.



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