Nicholas Lees | Episode 846
Nicholas Lees has a string of degrees from University of Kent (BA), University of the West of England (BA), University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (MA), and the Royal College of Art (MPhil). Nicholas has work exhibited in the UK and overseas and in public collections, including York City Art Gallery, Westerwald Keramikmuseum in Germany, and Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche in Italy. His awards include the Cersaie Prize, Faenza and Nicholas was a Senior Lecturer at Bath Spa University between 2000 and 2010 and is now a Visiting Lecturer at RCA and UCA Farnham.
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Do you ever find people copying your work?
Not in ceramic. Marginally. I have seen some people directly copy it in wood, wood turners had taken the same idea and then sort of misunderstood it a bit. On the whole I kind of think, yeah, it’s really difficult to make. If people want to copy it, go ahead and have a go then. See if you can.
How are you getting your work out into the world?
Mostly it goes through galleries. I have a relationship with a number of galleries, so I mostly sell through galleries. I use Instagram and I have a website but I don’t work that hard at direct selling myself because I really like to make the work and galleries do the job of selling it. It’s a nice way to work.
How many galleries do you need to have to be able to comfortably make enough for them and not be overworked?
Well I am working with about five or six galleries regularly at the moment, mostly in the U.K., one in France. A bit less in Europe. I was doing more in Europe but the recent political….well Brexit hasn’t helped, I’ll put it that way.
Do you have a process finding the galleries or did they come to you?
A bit of both. I think the galleries I am working with at the moment, probably more of them have come to me than I have approached them. I have done a lot of approaching galleries, and writing to people, and in the end the relationships that seem to work best is where the galleries have found me and where I thought they were the right place for me.
When you are selling on your own is there ever a conflict there? Are you trying to match the pricing of what the galleries are selling for?
Absolutely, yeah. The price is the same, whether it is from me or from the gallery.
Who sets the pricing for your pieces? Is that you telling the galleries what you want it sold for or is it vis versa?
Kind of , I suppose you hit a benchmark for that and then it is established. But that has come through essentially looking at the kind of market and thinking about where my work is in the market and a bit through negotiation with good gallerists. They are up for discussion about what they think is the right price.
Is it important for the gallery to inform collectors that they are worked on with a lathe?
It’s interesting. I think that’s really variable. I think it varies from place to place and actually from client to client in the galleries. Some people are really interested in that. Some people really want to know about the artist and they want to know about why they made it. There’s a whole lot of stuff I probably haven’t told you about why I make it and where I think it comes from. The story of process, some people are really interested in how it’s made and some people just think, That’s a beautiful object. I want to have it.
Has anyone ever accused you of doing slip casting for this work?
Some people assume that they are cast or that they are made by a CNC machine. Yeah, people are sometimes surprised by how they are made. Yeah. Not that slip casting is an accusation. Slip casting is a wonderful process. I love slip casting.
That’s good. Put me in my place. (laughter)
These aren’t slip cast.