Review: Lotte Glob exhibition, Ullapool

Lotte Glob is an internationally acclaimed Danish potter and ceramicist based in North West Scotland.

In this, her 80th year, An Talla Solais, in Ullapool, surveys some of the key elements which make up Glob’s evocative artistic output, her influences, and her life as a sculptor.

Writer LG Thomson takes a look at the exhibition which runs until 28 July. 


When I visit an art gallery or exhibition, I want something to happen. I want an emotional experience, a punch to the gut, a shift in perception. I want to feel different when I leave than when I arrived. To be fair, it’s a bit of an ask and I’m often disappointed, but when it does happen, it’s transformative. As transformative as firing clay in a kiln heated to 1,320 degrees centigrade which is what Lotte Glob does at her sculpture croft in Durness, Sutherland.

We are never alone when we encounter a work of art, listen to music, or read a poem. Always, we are in the company of ourselves, which means we are in the company of all that we know and all that we don’t know. We are in the company of our lived experiences, of whatever mood we happen to be in at that moment, and of all the emotional baggage we have accumulated through life. When I visited Lotte’s sculpture croft earlier this year, I had with me an embarrassment of company; a head brimming with deadlines to be met and itches I couldn’t scratch, but the moment I stepped into her world, I miraculously let it slide away. Like a snake sloughing its skin, I emerged new, unhindered, open.

As Prometheus is said to have shaped humans from clay, so Lotte Glob creates her ceramic creatures of Loch Eriboll from the land. Wandering  her landscape with a mind as clear as a cloudless sky, I encountered worlds within our world. Onion shaped planets orbiting each other in shades of cerulean, cobalt, ultramarine. Long kebabs of skewered blue stones, some stretching skywards, others leaning towards each other as though in conversation. A trail of ceramic books leads to a circular stone library, roofless, open to the heavens, shelves filled with heavy tomes with worn spines and ragged edges, volumes that look as though they contain the wisdom of the elders, the secrets of the alchemists.

Two towers made of green glass blocks sprout from boggy peatland and though there’s no poured concrete hereabouts, they immediately transport me to my primal landscape, an experimental New Town. Nearby, a small, heavily glazed figure lies on its back, roaring at the sky, looking for all the world like an abandoned toy in a New Town playpark. While the figure appears to have been dropped into the landscape, rough cast globular hummocks glow heavenly blue in the heather as though they have erupted from the soil. They are overlooked by sinister ceramic triffids and a tall structure, part tin man, part insect, with jointed limbs. Near the tin man, not a yellow brick road, but a path of azure and sapphire tiles that runs through the broom like a flowing stream.

An urn encompasses the base of a tree trunk. A gathering of slender individuals in shades ranging from turquoise to  deep marine is reminiscent of a sprouting of pitcher plants. But of all the wonders here, what strikes me most are the improbable creatures, each imbued with its own personality. Some are bold in nature, large and heavy, like guardians, while others scutter in the undergrowth, squatting close to the earth. Two beasts with short legs and long necks lean into each other while earth barnacles sing from rocks. One individual in particular pulls me into its gravitational field. A globular organism atop a plinth, its gaping maw invites me into its anatomically weird interior. I am Jonah swallowed by a whale. I pull free and spot a tiny round creature with big blue eyes. Its pink lipped fish mouth is laughing. At me? With me? With me, I think, for in this place there is joy. 

There is a soul singing honesty to Glob’s work. Like Prometheus, Lotte Glob is a master craftsman and a god of fire. She is an experimental artist who fires rocks, sediment, bones, earth, glass, metal, and on one occasion, an entire boulder, in her kiln. She says that a pot or sculpture is nothing until it has been through the fire, but while the fire transforms, it is Glob who creates. She is a conduit between earth and fire. Her glazes have been developed over six decades, and now, in her 80th year, she is exhibiting her work at An Talla Solais in Ullapool.

Primordial Life from the Loch features an exciting mix of etchings, drawings, and tiles along with a stunning collection of glazed bowls, but it is the creatures that dominate the gallery. It feels more like a gathering than a regular art exhibition, as though Glob has herded them here. They radiate so much energy you feel as if the moment the door is locked at night, the place will erupt into a wild party, with little creatures prancing  and waddling, tooting, hooting, and calling out. Their joy so infectious that the etchings vibrate, while drawings swirl, bones rattle and glazes fired solid in wood burning kilns return to a liquid state, pouring down the walls, and flowing on the floor like lava. The carousing lasts all night long, everything returning to its place just as the key rattles the door in the morning.

Forget everything you’ve ever learned about art, about what to like and how to like it. Forget you read this, ignore the noise in your head and whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. Instead, get yourself along to An Talla Solais and give yourself up to the elemental joys of Primordial Life from the Loch.


Primordial Life from the Loch, An Talla Solais, Ullapool, is sponsored by  Creative Scotland and the Henry Moore foundation.

LG Thomson is an author and artist living in Ullapool. Her writing has appeared in a wide range of literary publications including Art North, Epoch Press, and the Urban Pigs Hunger anthology. 


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