Drew Caines

Barkston House

Tucked away on the third floor of Barkston House sits Drew Caines, a Leeds based ceramicist who uses folklore, ethnography and modern art to inspire his collection of beautifully crafted sculptural pieces.

Surrounded by ceramic hare heads,  Pan-like human forms, robots adorned with flowers, cherry blossom stag antlers and life-like hearts carved with tree roots, it’s clear to see that nature is at the centre of Drew’s artistic practice. Upholding a self described ‘archaic pop’ style, Drew’s work is unique as it simultaneously draws inspiration from the ancient and the modern.

Speaking to Drew, he told us about some of his inspirations, saying;

“I’ve got a lot of different inspirations. Ceramics is obviously a really old art form and people have been using clay for thousands of years. I really love palaeolithic art and cave paintings, but I also love modern art, especially the work of contemporary artist KAWS. I like to combine modern and ancient art modern and I call it ‘archaic pop’ as I look at imagery and themes that were popular in the past and bring them back to life through a kind of pop art”

Drew became a studio holder with East Street Arts in 2017 at Barkston House, Holbeck. He enjoys his studio space and the dedicated ceramic facilities that come along with it, ceramics being an art form that has followed him throughout his life:

“When I was a kid I used to love plasticine. I’d play with it compulsively! Then I went off and did all sorts of work, including illustration. Sometime in the 90s I started attending an evening pottery class. This is where I began doing ceramics and the plasticine play I did as a kid came back into my thoughts. Art for me is just a lot of play, especially with clay. It took me a while to realise that these skills from childhood, as well as my illustration work, could also come into ceramics. When the penny dropped it was a real epiphany”

Today Drew uses the skills he picked up as a child to create sculptures that he sells online via Instagram Instagram as well as through galleries across the North of England, including Pyramid Gallery in York, the Craft and Design Gallery Leeds, Brightwater Gallery in Alnwick and Water Street Gallery in Todmorden.

“I make a lot of hare heads – that’s probably my best seller. They have a bit of a logo-esque quality, they’re stripped back which gives them an iconic feel. I love folklore and symbolism and hares have a lot of connotations and appeal. They are big sellers, especially through Instagram”.

Alongside his ceramic work, Drew is also hosting a virtual residency via Instagram which offers support and advice for artists seeking to develop more of a presence in the digital world. Recognising a lack of support for artists who may want to sell their work through Instagram, Drew has set up a profile (@guerrillagram101) to explore ways artists can use the platform as a means of expression and to promote themselves and their work, whilst also creating mutual support between fellow artists and creatives:

‘I’m basing it on what I’ve discovered over the last few years from using my personal Instagram but also drawing on my previous experiences as a stay at home dad as well as an activist who has been involved in producing campaign materials for many grassroots groups and national charities, predominantly vegan, animal rights, environmental and social justice campaigns’,

‘When I began using Instagram it soon became clear that my previous experience was directly applicable to promoting myself on the platform. It’s all about connecting with people, projecting  your narrative and doing it in a way that people can relate to so they become engaged with your story…just the same as any other campaign’.

You can keep up to date with Drew’s residency here, and follow his personal Instagram account here.

Read an extended interview with Drew by Joshua Van Leader here.

Photo Credit: Hannah Platt