Born in London in 1936 and initially trained as a painter, Ursula Morley-Price learnt the art of ceramics in the workshop of Hans Coper. Settled in the Charente, she has, since 1980, practised the ancient technique of coiling in order to create pieces of a great fineness characterized by the movement of waves in the breeze. Each piece is developed around a central form – vase, bottle or dish. Onto this framework, by progressively adding small coils which she pinches and thins to the very limit permitted by the clay, she patiently builds fine wings – as an undulating wave launched into space. Despite their base in utilitarian forms, derived from the improbable combination of the lace ruffs of the portraits of the 16th and 17th centuries and the fine paper honey-combed Japanese decorations (memories of her childhood), the sculptures of Ursula Morley-Price tend towards a harmonious and totally personal imagery .Ursula Morley-Price works with a range of matt glazes going from a creamy white to rich dark browns, and passing through the subtle tones of bronze or greenish blue. The edges, of an extreme fineness, are almost serrated. The turning and undulating movement creates an airy rhythm and a play of light and shade that runs throughout the piece making one forget the weight of the stoneware.
Since the 70s, when she moved to France, Ursula Morley Price has focused all her ambitious artistic talent and will into defying the properties of clay – a unique and obsessive quest. Movement barely sketched, tensions taut, skin vibrant, extreme fragility and unsettling virtuosity combine together in a gentle rhythm to express the essence of a poetic life. Ursula Morley Price’s pieces are of an engineering precision, but carry in them a complex message, both subtle and determined: within the play of waves one reads simultaneously of a kind of inherent eternity as well as the image of human vulnerability.
Virginie Desrante, Conservateur, Département du patrimoine et des collections, Sèvres – Cité de la céramique.