Valerie Giannandrea McKeag is a Scottish Italian born in Falkirk, Scotland. She graduated from the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art Dundee, Scotland in 1985 with a 1st Class BA Hons in Illustration. She moved to London and worked as a freelance illustrator, working for various clients in advertising and publishing over a twelve-year period. Moving to Belfast in 1997, she retrained as a teacher and is currently Head of Art at Ashfield Girls’ High School in Belfast.
She has exhibited extensively with work held in many private collections both nationally and internationally and is represented by leading Art Galleries in N. Ireland.
Inspired by the natural world, her paintings capture, through her masterful use of paint, the ever-changing effects of seasonal light and weather on the unique and stunning land and seascapes of Ireland. She has recently revisited the subject of the still life – inspired by the works of Morandi and William Scott, these paintings explore her love of colour, composition and the painted surface.
John McKeag was born in Lurgan Co. Armagh, N. Ireland. He graduated with a BA Hons Fine Art in painting from Manchester Polytechnic in 1988. Following this, he completed a Diploma in Ceramics at Wandsworth College in London and, for a short period, assisted Lisa Hammond at Maze Hill Pottery, Greenwich in London. He returned to Belfast and, after further training and work experience as a production thrower, set up his own studio in 2005.
He combined this practice with teaching and has recently set up a new studio in the Mourne region of County Down, Ireland.
He has exhibited widely with works held in the collections of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Crafts Council of Ireland.
His studio practice combines the making of one-off pots alongside a small range of tableware.
With his one-off vessels he explores form, surface, colour and the space a pot occupies and contains. Working intuitively with these formal elements he aims to produce work that connects with him, feels complete and has a sculptural simplicity and presence. Inspiration and ideas can come from anywhere but mostly emerge through the material and the act of making. Specialising in making double walled pots that are wheel thrown and altered, he hones his pots through lengthy and controlled processes to produce simple, defined forms. The pots are glazed using a combination of slips, engobes and glazes and can be fired multiple times – each piece is a one-off.
The tableware range is made with no less attention given to design and quality of finish. All pots are thrown on the pottery wheel using a stoneware clay that is high fired to ensure durability for everyday use. These are not “showy” pots – they are aesthetically minimal and made to be used and enjoyed, to sit quietly in the hand and home.