Ethos

In the valuable sessions with Theo Humphries, we looked at my ethos as a maker.
We unpicked, simplified and made it more punchy.


 

I’m a ceramic gardener.

By this I mean that I work with clay as a living medium to grow ceramic forms. These forms are nourished by fertile interactions and are cultivated by my practice.

Employing the metaphor of a gardener is important to me because it enables me to forefront the unpredictable and vital dimensions of clay as a material.

 


The original:
I’m a ceramic gardener who works with clay as a living medium, to grow shapes and forms arising from fertile interaction and cultivation.

To interact is to exist. (I could expand on this too.)

Scaling down to the form of garden is to simplify the world into the human scale and experiment with it, seeing it through different angles.

extras – (I’m inspired by Japanese rock garden who’s pivotal points are inorganic rocks emerging from within rubble, representing movement of the sea and islands of life. … Modernist sculpture and abstract expressionism looking at the essences of form, space, interaction and the materials.)

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The Growing Exhibition at InkSpot for Made in Roath, Cardiff

A week of site specific building, challenging my skills and technique for hand building.
Organising and invigilating an exhibition as part of a local, contemporary arts festival.


We had an amazing opportunity, a seed planted by Natasha’s interaction with Made in Roath and Potclays, to participate at this year’s festival of local arts – Made in Roath.

My work from last year fitted best in the staircase area, not only due to not fitting in the cabinets, but the transitory nature of the space.
At the end I decided to build in there too due to the space being more outdoor than indoor, or something in between, and a space that needed some cultivation.

A small gap next to the stairs was really the only safe, unused space to build on, after clearing some stuff away. I kept a small table without the top in there, to give me some instant hight to the build as well as a shape, a seedling to start with. The shape was really influenced by the awkward space and an object already present. As it creeped through the site, it changed; adapted and explored the environment with the maker and the viewer.

We haven’t had many visitors over the week, and due to the awkward position of my live build and small sculptures, many people missed it.
However, when I was building there I could welcome straight away all the visitors coming, the kids loved how the live build looked like a horse, and few of my small sculptures/glaze test pieces have been stolen (I’m taking it as a compliment).

 

The Venice Biennale and BCB – Draft

Two internationally important shows provided me with context for the start.
One ceramic orientated, the other one focused on modern international art helped me position myself between these two and bring plenty of inspirations.


 

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Rock making

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Hands on volunteering, helping create papier-mâché and UV reactive rocks for Jennifer Taylor’s twilight sci-fi landscape used for her theatrical performances.


Replying to alluring email from G39 about volunteering opportunity, Morgan and I appeared in a fun and dynamic workshops creating masses of light rocks using cardboard, bubble-wrap and covering them with PVA and tissue paper. These were then covered in carpet glue so that the Daz washing powder would stick on them making them reactive to the UV light as part of multimedia ‘Silent Beach’ exhibition and performance.

 

We’ve soon been allocated to help with covering a large wooden skeleton with chicken wire and stuffing it with some waste paper so to create the base for small grotto, or large hollowed rock for performers to emerge from.


This encounter was so good not just by discovering the work of Jennifer Taylor who is essentially being birthed by inorganic rocks, basically rendering them alive, but by sculpting a landscape using completely different materials and techniques than I would use normally.
I realised how extremely important it is not to be stuck in clay when exploring ideas and philosophies, that are not just about the material.
In some cases I could scale up and explore ideas without extreme effort and time spend nurturing the clay; incorporating other materials in final installation as a narrative support for objects in clay. Performance could also be an important aspect in activating the installation and objects within, rendering them more alive, or dead.

Ceramic residency at La Pedrix, France

Undergoing immersive week extending my skills in sculpting, hand building, collaborating, performing and story telling.


Learning how to reclaim dry blocks of clay with no plaster, and in limited time was quite challenging. Arising to smashing the clay into almost powder with heavy tools, and after saturating it with limited amounts of water, building arches to let the sloppy clay dry.
However, accustoming myself with this new, locally dug clay was easier. I really enjoyed its unique colour as well as the groggy and rather sticky texture, even though it did not record the texture of my hand, which I normally try to keep.

Set with the task of creating a kiln based on a country and its stories/folklore, I started drafting ideas and searching for stories in Slovak/Slavic mythologies. I came up with some designs based on ‘Morena’ – goddess of Winter whose effigy is burned and thrown into a stream to welcome the Spring. However, its basic story didn’t really interest me, with obvious but messy symbolisms such as female fertility, rebirth, coldness, evil and beauty, burning witches, etc.

I was wondering, that there must be a folk story for every fairy common creature and natural phenomena, over the many years and geographies of human existence.
My first search trial was snails, as I like them and could relate to their slow and quiet exploration of the world.
Within Christian traditions they are perceived as evil, symbols of the deadly sin of sloth, laziness and apathy.
However, in Aztec stories snail is representing the moon, its shell the cycles of moon and is considered humble and respectful. Moreover, it has very interesting and different back story to the moon’s creation. I was instantly captured, and felt I could retell the story to others, with the kiln supporting the theatrical presentation perfectly.

 

I sketched multiple designs of snail like object with circular features representing the moon. At the end I stayed with fairy simple in detail but still challenging enough shape for me.

I felt I could really develop my aesthetics in hand building and sculpting, experimenting with this semi abstract form with emphasis on empty space and more organic, uneven surface. The red slip allowed me to separate the circle – moon and shell from the base, whilst white slip brushes added a bit more movement and clay dots another voids.

 

 

As a side project we had to construct a stackable camping set, but missing a collaborative element in the residency, I teamed up with Morgan. To allow us to focus on our kilns and produce something good in such a short time, we stripped down the stackable element to the basic and pumped up the fun element. Our fun ‘Camp’-ing Picknic Set included one big serving/salad bowl with decoration imitating weaved basket, and limp wristed hands as handles. Inside the bowl could fit: 2 smaller and 2 bigger plates with penis pattern decoration and illustrations of me and Morgan; 2 high heel leg wine glasses; double bum bowl, and 2 sets of cutlery in shape of hands, penises and lips with lipstick.

 

 

Exploring France through the few trip we had was a rich experience.
With very camp and opulent, gilded Italian tea set from a car boot sale, giving us more inspirations for the Camp Camping Set and its decoration that awaited.
The cliff-side town with a whole church cut into the rockside, and small well shrines in a potter’s studio was a captivating example of slow growth and transformation: through inorganic – chiseling out the pillars, walls and features of the church, or waters eroding voids and channels into the rock; to organic – moss and mold growing on the faces of rock walls from the trickling of water and moisture present, and various plants finding any sunny surfaces to plant their roots.
It was fun to find many snails, some in crazy, almost surreal forms, in various art and souvenir shops.

 

 

 

Finally Sculpting

Coming from Field, I was reminded of how much I actually enjoy sculpture and the synthesis of ideas within three-dimensional installation.
I went ahead with building and sketching.


Experiences from both of my fields were inspirational to the extend that they changed my work in this year’s project completely. From direct, tight, designed and functional tableware to more broad look across the art fields (illustration, sculpture, graphic design, historical collections, etc.), and practical explorations of the ideas through more fun and experimental, sculptural exploration.
The colours and animistic features of the Penguin Donkey, my catalyst object from the Ken Stradling Collection, are still present, but now I’m more free to explore ideas around containment, storage and systems that classify and order the stuff and things that they embody.

Initial sketches, inspired by Angus Suttie’s colourful and imaginative ceramic alterations and surrealist’s game of ‘exquisite corpse’ of not really knowing what will happen next, a kind of system of order and dis-order.

  1. Mick Morgan showed us his quick technique of building large pots, which I adapted to create a larger cabinet, planning to play with texture, additions, colour, etc.
    2. Smaller cabinet with legs.

3. 4. two cabinet like structures which were faster to create and explore notion of space and system repetition.

Final Wunderkammer Proposition Presentation

SUGARCOATED COLLECTIONS
Presenting my sweet proposition for the delicious Wunderkammer Field project, based on cloying experiences and deep glazed research during our scrumptiously immersive trips around the UK’s rich collections and sumptuous museums.


It was fun to create this proposition, play with individual artefacts, explore their ideas and put them in a different context, or rather present them in a different way than the traditional one. 20170215_115154 copy.jpg

As I wanted to make something physical and play around with clay, I quickly sculpted a ‘sketch’ of the Spanish baby Jesus. To make it more ‘commercial’ and ‘shiny’. I roughly vacuum-packed it, or rather just suggested it by slightly melting a piece of plastic from the bin over it.
I like the visual contradiction, as well as historic, from these 2 revolutionary materials; only from opposite ends of history.


Even with rather tight deadline to produce this presentation, I felt fairy confident with it.
However, presenting it I panicked and rushed it too much, not allowing me to explain my proposition as clearly and well as I would wish.
I should really just calm down and slowly make sure that people can actually understand me, and not make them confused as much as I’m normally at these situations.