Phoebe Cummings


"These small-scale studies sit in direct relation to my larger installation works, sometimes examining a detail that will be gathered into a sculpture or environment, sometimes exploring a word and how it might be articulated through material.  Attention is brought to the solace of gentle observation: toward the tenderness of shoots and the weight of fruit, growth and rotting, the hum of amorous insects and ultimately, silence.  These quiet thoughts are dipped in wax, returning the dry surface of the clay closer to the visceral essence of the raw material.  The process offers a layer of strength and protection, though the objects remain fragile and may subtly age over time; they demand care and this act of commitment is significant." - Phoebe Cummings


The fragility and transience of Phoebe's larger performance-led installations is embodied in her newer object-based work. Her unfired clay objects, which appear like botanical fragments from a dystopian landscape, encapsulate her ongoing exploration of nature’s ephemeral beauty and the trace it leaves in our memory. In a performative reference to the natural world, the artist’s material treads the line between resilience and vulnerability; clay is robust and re-usable yet ultimately fleeting in its raw state.


Phoebe Cummings studied Three-Dimensional Crafts at the University of Brighton, before completing an MA in Ceramics & Glass at the Royal College of Art in 2005. She has undertaken a number of artist residencies, in the UK, USA and Greenland, including six months as ceramics artist-in-residence at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2010). Cummings was the winner of the British Ceramics Biennial Award in 2011 and exhibitions have included a commission for the Museum of Arts & Design, New York and a solo show at the University of Hawaii Art Gallery, Honolulu. Her work was acquired for the permanent collections of York Art Gallery, Southampton City Art Gallery and The Shipley in 2015 through the Contemporary Art Society’s Craft Acquisition Scheme. Cummings was awarded the second ceramics fellowship at Camden Arts Centre 2012, was the inaugural winner of the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize 2017 and was shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Awards 2018. In 2019 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Brighton and is Research Associate at the Ceramics Research Centre UK – University of Westminster.