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S T E P H   B U T T L E   &   T I M   G R A Y

For the exhibition 'Gatherers' (May 2020):


'Under the earth, the roots of all plants intertwine and convene. Trees which seem so distinct and separate, are actually a herd. In touch with each other.'


'Our roots intertwine with yours, they twist and talk. We are, it turns out, a forest.'


'Gatherers. Foragers. Scavengers. This project began for us around New Year when we were down at a stretch of the Dorset coast that suffers from sudden and dramatic erosions of the cliffs.'

'We started noticing the way the root balls had been scoured and rolled into discs and spheres, all those hidden tendrils suddenly discovered and looking mysterious - still questing off, but the obstacles and hardnesses they had twisted around were gone. They had become depictions of the absent earth. Slipping through the fossil hunters and the fuel scavengers, we collected the finest of these nature-worked root balls and trunks and strapped them to the roof of the car.'

'We started work on these pieces in late January, when the world was younger and utterly different.'


'The reversal of the trunks to display the roots, to allow them to thread through the air and be revealed, seemed necessary and obvious. Placing porcelain collars and sleeves along the supports further celebrates their contours and forms.'


'As we elaborated the first pieces of the series, the world was upended and our values were reversed. For a time we put the work to one side and were rolled and scoured by the waves of the crisis. Along with our neighbours and our distant loved ones, we were tumbling and - for a time - lost.'

'But one freak wave must have dumped us above the high tide because we took the work out again and, wordlessly, instinctively the pieces came together as if they had nothing better to do.'

“Non-essential Items”, we are calling this work. There are so many things more fundamental to survival. A series of ten pieces, deriving from the large piece which was commissioned for the beautiful space at Omved.'


'You don’t need these things. Or perhaps you do. We’ll find out when our values have done with being rolled by these waves.'


Steph Buttle and Tim Gray have each worked for many years in their separate disciplines, ceramics and wood. 'The almost fanatical drive to master the disciplines of our mediums, that we each displayed in our early years, has become something gentler and more instinctive. We work together quite silently and it is as if the work has already been done by some process of hind brain contemplation that we weren’t even aware of. The pieces come together quickly and smoothly and it is a real joy to work like this after the painstaking learning of our skills that we did as younger people.'

Steph studied at Central Saint Martins from 2012 -2015 gaining a first class honours degree in Ceramics. Upon graduating she was nominated for Central Saint Martins Graduation Nova Award. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Lethaby Gallery London, Pangolin Gallery London, Messums Wiltshire, Port Elliot Festival 2015 -17 (with Hole & Corner Magazine) and the London Design Festival.