Ian Stewart’s animal ceramics are possibly amongst the most sought after artworks in Calderdale. As his ambitions have grown, so his techniques have extended to scraffito, raku firing, slips, oxides, glazes and decals; but at the heart of it all is a unique imagination.
“Ian does what he wants to do,” the noted painter and sculptor Alan Gummerson has remarked, “and makes it look like it’s meant to be. He is blessed with a lack of inhibition.”
Ian Stewart is a distinctive figure – recalling Grayson Perry in more ways than one. Unlike Perry, he ignored ceramics at school, only taking up the subject at FE College in 2002. It was nearly a decade later before he joined the weekly ceramics workshop at Northlight Art studios, Hebden Bridge and – with occasional advice from mentor, Sue Turner – began the “really very hard” task of devising his own projects. He works up his ideas (a series of large animals caring for smaller ones, say) through drawings, before opting for particular techniques.
The exuberantly colourful results – seen en masse at his 2017 show in Hebden Bridge – are a triumph of the heart and a tonic for the times.