Richard Slee (b. Cumbria, UK, 1946) studied at Carlisle College of Art & Design (1964–65) and studied ceramics at the Central School of Art & Design (1965–70). He graduated with an MA at the Royal College of Art (1988). Slee lives and works in London.
As one of Britain's most important contemporary ceramic artists, Slee's work attempts to challenge every conventional notion in ceramic art, transcending its utilitarian roots, whilst also sidestepping the self-indulgent aspects of the studio tradition that became ubiquitous in the late twentieth century. His works lie in contemporary debate and reference the current positioning of material specialisations within visual creativity.
For Slee, the objects he produces are intrinsically about the domestic interior and a love for the 'great indoors'. There are fabricated references in the work to the decorative, the ornamental and the symbolic both from past histories and within contemporary culture. These sources, often eclectic, are brought together to explore new meanings and dramas. For now they are resolved since the medium of ceramics permanently fixes them, but, as always, the drama of meaning is contingent and fluid.
In 2000, Richard Slee completed a major commission for Sculpture at Goodwood, and in the following year was awarded The Jerwood Applied Arts Prize for his contribution to contemporary ceramics.
Selected group and solo shows include Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK; Hayward Gallery, London, UK; Tate St Ives, Cornwall, UK; Tate Liverpool, UK; Studio Voltaire, UK; Object Gallery, Australia; Tramway, Scotland; The New Art Gallery Walsall, UK; Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham, UK; City Art Gallery, Leeds, UK; Arts Centre Aberystwyth, Wales; Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle, UK; Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, the Netherlands; National Museum, Stockholm, Sweden; World Ceramic Centre, Icheon, Korea; and The West Norway Museum of Decorative Art, Bergen, Norway. His work was included in the critically acclaimed show, Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970–1990 (2011–12) at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK. Slee's work is represented in numerous collections world-wide, including British Council UK; Museum of Arts and Design, NY, USA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA, USA; Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan; Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, Japan; National Museum, Stockholm, Sweden; Stedelijk Museum, the Netherlands; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA; and Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK. His most recent solo exhibition, Richard Slee: Mantlepiece Observations opened in 2021 at Bolton Museum, UK.