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.

Sculpting

I wanted to extend my interest and experience in sculpture by sneaking into 2 workshops by incredible Claire Curneen, looking into figurative clay forms.


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In her workshop into building heads, she could talk so beautifully about the expressive and representational forms we were asked to crate. Lose ourselves and stop thinking about realism.
She also directed us to acknowledge the natural properties of the clay and how we can use it for our advantage, not needing to faff and smooth and play with the surface unnecessarily.

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With slip we could add another layer and narrative into the figure, with simple sgraffito and layering colours. Thinking about simple feeling, narrative, and trying to translate it onto the figure.

I created this almost tree trunk looking face, thinking about my autumnal bicycle ride back home from university, through a wast park with an allay of trees.

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Another demonstration I managed to catch was her never work of tree like/figure like forms.
It is always so fascinating to observe her ways of handling clay, and her ideas translated through it into the sculptures.

I want to explore and extend my main Subject and Field through sculpture in some ways, to inform even my functional practice, and exploration of the public space.

Slab Building – Building a Sagger

On our Workshop day last Monday, we were introduced to the basic techniques of Slab Building by our wonderful Technical Demonstrator Matt Thompson. By the task of building a sagger for our future combustable and experimental firing, we acquire the essential skills through practice.


The session covered all the basics of slab building techniques, of which I was already aware of, but it was good to recap on them.slab
I have just finished reading book from our required reading list – Slab techniques by Jim Robinson and Ian Marsh, so I was very keen to test it in practice.


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I had some issues with planning my time and started making my sagger a bit later, rushing it and therefore the result is of slightly decreased quality than anticipated. Mostly in the absence of a proper lid. However, that shouldn’t be a big problem as the lid needs to have some air holes, which my one has sufficiently enough around the edges.

I went for a simple box shape, using hand rolled slabs.

Each side is decorated with my exploration of patterns linked to my research into industrial functional architecture.
I’m very fond of the geometrical, triangular patterns; I’m just afraid how will I be able to translate them into a thrown piece.