Nicholas Lees

Nicholas Lees

Nicholas’ work is about perception. He is interested in the ephemerality and uncertainty of perception. Our visual experience of reality is conditional upon light, space and body. This body of work originates in an attempt to manifest qualities of shadows as representations of the hinterland between two and three dimensions and between presence and absence, so making a material penumbra. These ideas are also informed by a lifetime of looking at the same stretch of Scottish coastline, bringing the realisation that the constant shift of tide, weather and light mean the experience of perception is forever transient.

His aesthetic combines minimalism with complexity and the origination of his ideas and works is rooted in thinking through material and process.

The ceramic works are made from Parian, a porcelain clay developed in Stoke on Trent in the 19th century to imitate marble. The pieces are thickly thrown on the wheel, dried slowly and evenly before the fins are formed through lathe turning of the leather hard clay before firing. This making draws on precedents from the industrial production of electrical insulators to the use of throwing and lathe turning by Wedgwood since the 18th century. The introduction of colour is inspired by his works on paper with ink, in which the interaction between wet and dry is used as a parallel for movement and the uncertainty of perception. Coloring is done with soluble metal salts applied through a combination of saturation and evaporation so that the colour travels through the form and concentrates on the edges. Monochrome works are using a narrow palette of white, grey and black clays reflecting the origin of the work in light and shadow.

Nicholas Lees’ work has been exhibited widely in the UK and overseas and is held in private and public collections including York City Art Gallery, the Petersfield Museum, Westerwald Keramikmuseum in Germany and Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. In 2024 his work was acquired by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London for their permanent collection.

He has won several awards including the Cersaie Prize at the Premio Faenza (Italy) in 2015, the National Sculpture Award at the Bluecoat Display Centre in Liverpool in 2010 and the Desmond Preston Prize for Excellence in Drawing at the RCA in 2012.

He works from a studio in Selborne, Hampshire, UK.


Please note this list is not exhaustive. Contact us for more information about available work.