Jenny Lewis on fri 3 dec 99
I've found the relevant back copy of Ceramic Review (March/April
Nikki Coe, potter in residence at South Hill Park, died while
sleeping in her studio a month before her first solo show at the
Bracknell Arts Centre. This tragic accident of carbon monoxide
poisoning was the result of failing to reset the kiln's damper
between firings in a poorly ventilated workshop; a reminder of the
potential dangers of ceramics when combined with the additional
fatigue of working towards an exhibition.
The work, mounted posthumously, affirmed Nikki's passion for the
natural world, in particular the landscape of Scotland's west coast
and her native Somerset, but she will also be remembered for her
educational work. She combined a remarkable talent for inspiring
others with her own obsession for ceramics and a mature
professionalism unusual in one so young. During her residency she had
developed a particular interest in working with special needs students
and had become a key figure in the Bracknell Art project. She was,
however, also concerned to raise the profile of clay at the centre
nationally and recently organised, with exemplary efficiency, a series
of ceramic master classes. There must be many who are indebted to
Nikki Coe for discovering, through clay, an opportunity to explore
their creative potential.
Perhaps potters have a very particular understanding of death: the
transformation in the kiln of plastic clay, with its infinite
possibilities, to an immutable state can be seen as a metaphor; but
it is a bitter irony that Nikki, who possessed such a wonderful
mixture of vision, sensitivity, generosity and artistic talent should
have been destroyed by the very tool that gave permanence to her work.
Those who knew her have much to celebrate from her short life.
Nicola Denise Coe died 1st September 1995, aged 26 years.
Obituary written by Sebastian Blackie, Nikki's tutor while head of
ceramics at West Surrey College of Art and Design.