Katharine is UK ceramic artist predominantly working in unglazed porcelain, creating a three dimensional drawing of everyday inanimate objects.
I admire the strip to complete simpleness in Katharine’s work, but still expressing a lively and whimsical illustrative nature, with aspects of positive nature and character of the artist.
Especially with her newer work, archive drawers, collections of found specimens from nature expressing almost childlike fascination with the world.
This work informs my exploration in line through supportive structures of cooling towers and industrial architecture in my Subject, as well as the seams of my Tea for Two textile tea-set.
The ambiguity is especially strong in this collection of peculiar objects, being life size replicas of real objects but stripped down to number of lines and a shape, making us feel uncertain of their full 3D or 2D capabilities; same as my uncertainty in stability and containment.
Large scale, monumental pots with expressive surface marks while looking at traditional techniques of Chinese Porcelain from Jingdezhen.
Felicity Aylieff set up her ceramic studio in Jingdezhen, China – the world’s capital of porcelain, and ceramics.
This gave her first hand access to the knowledge of traditional ceramic making, which she is trying to translate “radically different, contemporary, with a clear personal voice” into her own practice.
In ‘Mapping Memory’ series, Felicity Aylieff is commissioning the local craftsmen to throw monumental vases from porcelain for her, on which she can create free-form brush marks, expressive lines and grids.
The marks and movement are well rehearsed from previous tests and practice to acquire “confidence, familiarity and integrity of mark.”
To create the rich dark ink blue, as well as soft and translucent, she is using Ming Blue – a mix of cobalt and iron oxides, diluted for different tones of blue.
Blue and White monumental Vase, 2011 ﾠ Porcelain, Glazed, Kang Qian Cobalt oxide 191 x 71 cms
Blue and White monumental Vase, 2011 ﾠ Glazed porcelain painted in cobalt blue 191 x 71 cms
Five Storey’s: Chinese Ladders – 3, 2009 ﾠ Glazed Porcelain, Cobalt Oxide. 269 x 50 x 50 cms
Visually, the surface marks resemble the skeletal parts of industrial cooling towers, chimneys or furnaces; just less structured, more expressive.
I tried my own version with inks, but trying for slightly more regular pattern of lines, resembling more structures on Bechers’ photographs.
However, I still tried to keep the free and expressive nature when using a brush.
Initial processing of my dug clay from Fforest Fawr near Tongwynlais, and shaping it for experiments and analysis.
After drying up my clay at home and braking it into smaller pieces, I brought the dried clay to the studio where I covered it with water to soak and brake the dried pieces up again.
Leaving it for a few days to sit and braking it up a bit more with hands I noticed how my substance is more like a sandy mud, than a clay.
I decided to screen it first through 30 mesh sieve to remove any larger sand, rocks and organic debris more easily, and then again through finer 40 mesh sieve.
The process was very strenuous and incredibly smelly, the clay substance releasing powerful sewage odours, giving me more proof that what I have is a highly organic and sulphury substance with little clay in it.
When I removed all larger sand and organic debris with the sieves, I poured the wet mud onto a plaster bat to soak up excess water, and tried to wedge it into a one ball.
The substance felt rather sandy and as sand is a non-plastic part of a clay, I knew that my clay would be very short and lack plasticity.
This would make it difficult to shape my clay into tiles for further testing, therefore I decided to integrate some clay available in university to make it more plastic and malleable and see how the two clays would react.
There could be another option on how to separate and retreat the clay from my dug substance, using levigation. However, that was the more time consuming process and I already felt slightly behind with the task.
I decided to introduce the same amount of porcelain as my dug clay; choosing porcelain for it’s plasticity and whiteness; so that any colouring from my raw clay would be more noticeable.
Wedging the two clays together, the mixture was still too short for my likings, so I added a bit more porcelain.
Totally my clay mixture consists of 1296 grams of my raw dug clay and the same amount 1296 grams of porcelain with extra 300 grams, as the mixture was still too short. That is 44.81% of clay sourced in Fforest Fawr and 55.19% university’s porcelain.
I ended up with a more plastic and malleable clay, but also more porcelain than my dug clay.
I managed to shape the original raw clay at least into a ball of 100 grams, to test the water content in the dug substance.
The clay mixture was also shaped into a 100grams ball to see the weight difference compared to the pure raw clay, bone dry and then bisque fired; suggesting the amount of water as well as chemically bonded water in the clays.
The test tiles from my porcelain and raw clay mix will be fired to different temperatures raging from just bone dry, biscuit fired to 1280°C reduction.
This will demonstrate changes across the different temperatures as well as the shrinkage rate, when measuring the 10cm long line marked on the tiles.
After drying for few weeks and then weighting the 100 grams balls again, the difference in water content was 33.3 grams for raw clay and 26.1 grams for clay mixture with porcelain.