At twenty-four, Richard was forced into medical retirement due to the onset of Ankylosing Spondylitis. Active phases of disease kept Richard housebound, sometimes for months on end, and as an outlet for his energy and frustration he experimented with different media until he joined an adult education class in ceramics, partly for the opportunity to work with clay before, making small sculptures, but this was his first exposure to the potter’s wheel and he became instantly addicted. Richard bought a wheel, set up a studio and learned as he went along.
Richard was initially inspired by the artefacts of ancient or primitive cultures. It is their sense of harmony and form that still guides us today and sets our aesthetic values. Hans Coper saw this, which is why his work is so appealing to Richard – he believes that he was keyed in to the same aesthetic principles as he was.
Richards work has evolved, and continues to evolve, out of his fascinations with the simplicity and symmetry of workings of the universe, and the ways in which mankind has always manipulated and reflected his environment – man the maker, man the aesthetic. Richard intends his pieces to be points of stillness, but full of tension and energy; He wants them to have a quiet but powerful presence in whatever environment they find themselves. Richard uses the interplay of opposites (order and chaos, light and dark, past and future, etc.) to design the shape and allow the meditative nature of the wheel to quieten the mind as he works, so that the subconscious themes such as maleness, femaleness and fertility rise up and influence the piece, creating an illusion to ritualistic or ceremonial purposes.
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