The potter’s wheel is the starting point for his practice. Neill’s thrown forms create a three-dimensional ‘canvas’ to show the colour and texture of glaze splashes that accentuate the curve of the vessel. The carbonisation of combustible material sits deep within the walls of the pot, thus marrying the form with the surface. Neill fires his pots exclusively in the western style of the 16th century Japanese firing technique known as Raku - a type of pottery traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies.
The elegant forms show a variation of colours that are controlled by the atmospheric conditions in the firing process; this is comparable to the earth’s different layers in its atmosphere that, for instance, create the beautiful spectrum of colour in the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.
When working in black and white, Neill uses atmospheric storms as a starting point for a series of pieces. The curve and lines of the vessel contain harsh elements and bring a sense of calm that is comparable to ‘The Eye of the Storm’.
The inspiration for his work comes more from the firing process than anything else; to open a kiln after a firing is to be 5 years old again, running down stairs on Christmas morning! The raku firing process can be cruel or kind. It is a mix of creativeness and spontaneity that Neill tries to control through the absorption of smoke into the vessel, by using different methods of resist. With each piece, Neill wants to instil in the viewer a desire to hold the work, to investigate and explore its shape and surface quality. There is an understanding gained in each firing of what can be controlled and achieved, and what lies in the turbulent power and burning velocity of the flames.