The artist enjoys the interplay of his work with clay and the 3D aspects of our surrounding geography. As we move within our environment, so we interact with his works, taking in all the various viewpoints and responses that involvement in place offers. The forms and glazes of Bradley’s hand-built ceramic pieces incorporate the rhythms and colors of the prairie and the mountains. This artist loves the land and offers us opportunities to take a bit of it home to enjoy and cherish.
With his trademark touch of whimsy, Bradley examines the kindred intersections of nature, humans, and our connections to place.
Ceramics has a long history as a recording device for culture and historic events. As well, it is the perfect medium to interpret the landscape, as it is comprised of the earth itself.
My recent work is a reaction to my environment and our relationship with it. The underlying concept is the idea of a stone raft. To borrow a metaphor from "The Stone Raft" by Jose Saramago - Nobel Laureate for Literature 1998 - what if all our borders suddenly broke off and started to float away? Like a boat at sea, we’d instinctively start to take care of the land and realize its life sustaining potential. To visualize the metaphor I take voluminous clay forms and raise them on wooden stands. This is my Trestled Series.
The ceramic is earth-like in texture and colour. The forms allude to the familiar yet are ambiguous enough to allow the viewer to bring their own interpretation. The ribbed understructure balances the ceramic components between the natural and mechanical. Further, the wooden stands raise the pieces and protect them from the space around them. Together they create a curiously recognizable yet oddly unidentifiable object that invites the viewer to make their own associations.
My process is a constant exploration of form, surface, and glaze. I try to balance these elements to create something that begins to tell a story; a story that is revealed over time through use and mutable observation. The Eastern Slopes Bowl evokes the memory of the Canadian Rockies. A slightly rippled edge of a bowl that suggests a gentle breeze, the drip of a slip line that looks like a furrowed field in the foothills, the waffled edge that echoes a ridgeline along the Sawtooth, or the transition of a glossy to a matte glaze surface that alludes to a shoreline in the Crowsnest Pass. These are some of the narrative elements that I am seeking to expose in my work.
For me as an artist these pieces are a collision and distillation of all of my interests, which inevitably connect with the viewer.
1992-1994 Alberta College of Art and Design (BFA with Distinction).
1990-1992 Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
1985-1989 University of Calgary, B.Sc. in Zoology.
"Maybe when they're holding something, a mug or a little pot or something, to notice this couldn't have been made in a mold, it really can't be mass produced, which is kind of one of the things I try to go for." (Bradley Keys in "Ceramicist sees fundamental shifts in social interactions" by Dominique Carrier (Rocky Mountain Outlook, 28 August 2008. Bradley in his studio, 2008.