Exhibition set to be tinged with sadness

THE opening of the exhibition Evolve at Back to Back Galleries, Cooks Hill, will include works by Jennifer Bates.

Ms Bates was killed on her scooter while on her way to work after a  hit-and-run at Wickham in December.

The 36-year-old architect and passionate environmentalist had also taken a keen interest in ceramics. 

Nicola Purcell was Ms Bates’ teacher at Newcastle Studio Potters where she attended classes on Wednesday nights for more than 12 months. 

“Jen was my student,” Ms Purcell said.

“She always had a little plan. When she first came to class she just wanted to learn to work with the clay.

“From there she always had a project to work on. She always had a fantastic idea.”

During her time in class she made vases and intricate tiles. However, one of her more unusual pieces will be on exhibition at the upcoming show. 

“One day she came in with a picture of a Hindu altar that is used for daily worship,” Mr Purcell said. 

“She said, ‘Can I make this?’. It was a real feat.”

“Her step-mum is Indian and a Hindu, she made the altar for her.”

Ms Purcell guided her with the construction of the terracotta piece which features an arched cut-front in which candles can be burned. 

It is understood the piece has since been used in the family home where a candle was burned for 30 days following Ms Bates’ death. It will be taken to the gallery in time for the exhibition opening. 

“It was just tragic that Jen passed away,” Ms Purcell said. 

“The exhibition is another opportunity for people close to Jen [to remember her].”

At the opening of Evolve Ms Bates will be remembered. Her friend, and fellow ceramicist, Sarah Dowe will speak about her friendship with Ms Bates. 

The exhibition will also feature hanging pots made by Ms Bates. More than 70 pieces from 35 students will also be on exhibition.  

“There will be small, medium and large pieces,” Ms Purcell said. 

“We felt the students were doing such beautiful pieces of work that we asked them if they would like to have a show.”

It will be the first student exhibition held at the gallery. 

The students in the exhibition have all been taught by four local ceramists: Sue Stewart, Nicola Purcell, Anne Gazzard and Kara Wood. This exhibition is ‘a celebration of the evolution of ideas and techniques becoming exciting works of art.’

TEACHER: Nicola Purcell holds a small piece of work made by her student Jennifer Bates.

TEACHER: Nicola Purcell holds a small piece of work made by her student Jennifer Bates.

Featured artists include: Joanne Ailward, Dana MacLeod, Jen Bates, Holly Marlin, Anna Behnke, Leanne Millard, Mina Beirami, Michael Nobbs, Anna Bowie, Michelle Nunn, Zoe Brent, Tilda Patton, Angela Budden, Mel Pegg, Erica Potter, Jacinta Delprado, Erin Reid, Jen Denzin, Emmerson Rodriguez, Sarah Dowe, Kathy Simpson, Mel Duffy Fagen, Emma Stanistreet, Julie Faux, Janet Steele, Jacquie Garcia, Angela Tonks, Naomi Hill, Natasha Trevaskis, Holly Hutchens, Steph Whitehead, Lindsay Laird, Barry Williams, Peter Llewinski, Nicki Bates, Ashley Wheelhouse, Remy Tatersall and Rose Turner.

Evolve will open at 6pm on January 20 and will run until February 5 at Back to Back Galleries. The gallery is located at 57 Bull Street, Cooks Hill. 

Stoneware works by Erica Potter, one of 35 students who will exhibit at Back to Back Galleries in the show Evolve.

Stoneware works by Erica Potter, one of 35 students who will exhibit at Back to Back Galleries in the show Evolve.

Jennifer Bates had been learning ceramics for more than 12 months. Her works will be exhibited at Evolve.

Jennifer Bates had been learning ceramics for more than 12 months. Her works will be exhibited at Evolve.

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