Tea for Two – Introduction and Ideas generating

Exciting and dynamic new FIELD project of internal collaboration.
Creating a complete tea set in pairs, originally only in 2 weeks; stimulating fast thinking and ideas creation, and then pushing them for production.

Grouped with Jen, I was glad I could work with someone I had no chance to meet properly before.
As she couldn’t attend the introduction presentation, I prep her through phone, so we can start generating some ideas independently and then bring them together, find compromises and set directions.

Some of the objects from “History of the World in 100 Objects” series helped me at generating ideas, how object convey the issues and thinking of its time.

History of the World in 100 Objects. Russian revolutionary plate.

Such as Russian revolutionary plate from 1921, expressing a new world order for the benefit of the worker, who is treading on the world “capital”. The plate celebrates creation of the first Communist state; in futurist style, looking at the bright, red future of peace and work for everyone, social and economical equality, utopia has never been so close.

History of the World in 100 Objects. Early Victorian tea set.

Or Early Victorian tea set from 1840, talking about the new, industrialised and colonised world where all the aspects of a high class tea ceremony comes from across the world, sugar from South African sugar cane plantation or Indian tea from Himalayas mountain regions, even the milk, brought by new and exciting form of transport – train, to the metropole of Empire, from outside countryside.

Looking at my current time and generation, Guardian’s series on “Millennials: The perfect storm of debt, housing and joblessness facing a generation of young adults” [Guardian] the facts, figures and opinions were informative on the current issues; as well as the current threat of austerity and cuts around, especially for the youth homelessness prevention program SHYPP, who helped me too, back in Hereford.

support SHYPP from mediashypp on Vimeo.

Meeting with Jennifer, I presented my ideas around homelessness and generation struggle which she acknowledged.
Jen expressed her interest in 1970’s Staffordshire functional pottery design and the link to her home.

Example of 1970 Staffordshire, functional pottery design.

I was delighted as I was always interested in the modern, simple but colourful aesthetic, and wanted to achieve them in my own throwing practice.
The time when they were created also reflected the previous generation of ambition, modernity and consume, so often compared to the struggling generation of today’s young adults.
This gave us great foundation to start designing and draw ideas and designs, encompassing the themes.


“There’s many a slip twixed cup and lip”

It has been exactly 8 weeks from receiving our SUBJECT brief titled “There’s many a slip”, exploring the ceramic practice of creating vessels.
It’s few days to our group tutorial as well as close to the Formative Assessment, giving us an idea on what mark we stand on, judging on skills, context and ideas.
This will allow us to see and choose what direction we want the project to go in the Second Term.

I want this post to be my reflection on my ideas and exploration into a vessel, preparing me for the group tutorial to get most out of it. 

re cycle
The old English proverb that the brief is titled suggests that even if we know how something might turn up, and even if we are certain, something might still develop in an undesirable way.
It’s a great allegory to our first term of the degree where we are introduced to so many ideas and processes.
I managed to produced more waste (only recyclable of course) than functional objects; always pushing the clay when on the wheel to the point of collapse while developing my throwing skills, but at least I’m more confident at centering, pulling walls and creating shapes I desire.


As our first trip to the V&A Museum in London in the first, induction week revealed, there’s a huge number of ways to explore the subject of vessels; from just function or disfunction, to shape and size, colour and texture, narrative and impression or perhaps to nihilism and meaningfulness?

Besides, all the cultures Luxury cupsdeveloped an object to hold liquid, and to drink from for millennia. As the “1660 Tea Cup Connoisseur Set” exhibited as part of the V&A exhibition entitled “What is Luxury?” points out, is how the small differences in the shape of vessel can impact taste. Highlighting the lip of a cup and how it can enhance aroma, texture or taste.

I tried to look at what is pleasant for me too, when drinking from a vessel, and found out how a small milk jug with a pouring lip is my favourite object to drink a hot tea from (especially a three cinnamon tea).

Favourite cup






Also how profoundly different experience it is to drink fresh water from an Indian mug with a sucking lip rather than using just clean plain glass.
Nosecup Nosecup






However, the emerging technology around ceramics and art interested me too. I’ve been so thankful I could see a 3D printer working at the British Ceramic Biennale.3D printed vessels
3D printing ceramics

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 22.44.54.png
One of my 3D design attempts. A base/saucer for my vessels








I’m curious about playing with 3D software modelling and 3D printing, and incorporating this into my ceramic work, which than can speak of more contemporary ideas of practice and production.

An idea behind a body of work is important for me, as I want to explore or read concepts and arguments through an object.

Vulcanic vessel

Even an object gushing and bursting like vulcan full of magma can be considered a vessel; its own lava creating its walls, speaking of the formation process of clay and the Earth’s surface, as well as exciting and ever-changing human culture surrounding clay.

Throw and cast

That’s why the objects created this 8 weeks want to speak about an impression: of a certain stability, like photographs of Bernd & Hilla Becher, of total steadiness and secureness, supported and weighted by their bases, fully functional with their angled lip and still they can develop in unpredicted way, like “many a slip…”

Like the documentary photography of Bechers, this is a snapshot of my progress throughout this first year of my degree.
Like the structures they photographed, strong and secure, but now all disassembled, demolished or not used; most of my work destroyed and reclaimed, my skills improved and changed.

A visual research into shapes


While undergoing intense workshop into the basics of throwing and turning in the first term, I started to lean to and try to repeat some similar shapes in particular – trapezoid, a cooling tower shape or a hyperboloid structure.

To aid and direct the objects I am producing during the first term’s project, I’m researching work of Bernd (20.08.1931-22.06.2007) and Hilla Becher (2.09.1934-10.10.2015); as well as looking at other images, and my drawings emerging from them.

From series - Cooling towers, Germany 1964-1993 by Bernd and Hilla Becher
From series – Cooling towers, Germany
1964-1993 by Bernd and Hilla Becher

Bernd and Hilla Becher are an artist duo documenting German’s disappearing industrial architecture in 1959.
Their work is presenting engineer’s structures, like sculptures – monuments of strength and stability; they are sincere and objective-less: documenting and capturing the present, which can disappear (and which did – disassembly and moving factories and industries to Asia).

Like a technical drawing, showing the great skills in photograph-making, they are trying to capture the image with no distortion, and brimming with information.
That’s why their photographs are sometimes criticised as cold and ‘inartistic’, especially in the time when art photographers wanted their pictures with an effect – high contrast, soft focus, etc.

Bernd and Hilla Becher Gas-holders Germany, Belgium, France, Britain, USA, 1966–93 Each 40 x 30 cm
Bernd and Hilla Becher Winding towers Germany, Belgium, France, 1965–98 Each 40 x 30 cm











Cooling Towers, 1983 Gelatin silver prints Twelve parts, each: 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm) Gerald S. Elliott Collection 1995.31.a–l



Cooling tower ink sketchWinding tower ink sketchCooling tower ink sketch

Water tower ink sketchCooling tower ink sketch

I created a number of quick sketches from these photographs, looking at the overall shape and pattern structure within.
I want these to direct my work into similar shapes, patterns and concepts.
As the photographs being a sincere documentation of present mastery, my work will be at the end of this first brief a honest snapshot of my development and mastery of the craft.


The ideas of stability and the present also interest me, as well as the historical significance of moving most of the industry from Europe to Asia and how the economic changes impacted today’s population of the West.



thrown-3 thrown-5thrown-4These are my first thrown objects this term, in Ash White, turned and most of them lightly burnished or scratched.
They can stack up to create a new structure, but they doesn’t fit well.
I do treat them as first experimentations, practice maquettes and first stages in my development of both practice and concept.
I want to be more consistent in the shape, to translate the stability and industrial power. The stacking up element to create new sculptural pieces from them, securely fitting into each other. And the overall quality of the object: cleaner finish, mostly with the rim; walls consistency and overall balance of the weight.
In the near future I will look at surface decoration: printing, scratching, colour, glazes, pattern, metal features.

  Information and photographs drawn from:
http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/long-look-bernd-hilla-becher http://www2.mcachicago.org/work/cooling-towers-bernd-and-hilla-becher/ http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/L2010.10.a-i/?tab=details https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernd_and_Hilla_Becher//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js