August 14th 2023 would have been Adela Powell’s 78th birthday. What better way than to mark the occasion by honouring her and her works. By Kellie Miller
It took me two years to build trust with Adela before she felt I could best represent her work. She questioned me at every encounter with her. She would eye me suspiciously while considering whether to impart her precious heartfelt creations to my care. I loved her ceramics, so I spent time assuring her of that. It particularly helped that I also had a background in ceramics and understood the blood, sweat and tears required to produce her artworks.
Her ceramics were her children, and she was not going to part with her pieces lightly. Equally, she was reluctant to courier her works over concerns about their safe arrival and the delivery costs involved. With that in mind, pieces always got to us through non-traditional routes.
I would get an unexpected phone call and then be required to meet an acquaintance or friend of hers in a car park. Once, I was at an evening arts meeting, and an artist came to me afterwards to say he had been delivered some pieces from one of her neighbours, and they were in his car.
Over the years, our respect grew for one another, and I witnessed her adoration for clay. She merged her love of art and science through the versatility of this material, and you can see how she experimented. Handling and playing with it allows ideas to surface, producing potentially exciting and unexpected results.
At other times external stimuli would set off a chain reaction of ideas followed by considerations of how to express them through the material. Often her challenges were overcoming the technical and aesthetic issues to resolve, develop and communicate the meaning within her work.
Studying Natural Sciences at Liverpool University, she later attended Plymouth College of Art and Design as a mature student.
You can see why she had a quest to align her two passions, which she eloquently achieved – producing forms, vessels and sculptures reminiscent of the natural environments of coastlines, river valleys and moorlands. The surfaces created often reflect the minerals, erosion and decay found there.
As a ceramic artist, what Adela Powell naturally conveyed was inspired by nature, landscapes and the sea. Her works examined the layered and eroded rocky surfaces while embracing fragility and the unpredictable.
Celebrating the life of Adela Powell, who passed away in autumn 2022, leaving a legacy collection which KMA is proud to present.
Kellie Miller is an artist, curator, critic and gallery owner.