I have been greatly influenced by my surroundings in Devon where I have lived for the past eleven years and Cornwall where I spend a lot of time walking. The landscapes and seascapes that create the natural contours and mapping out of the environment. The order of lines upon lines, the fusion of natural materials against possibly manmade structures. Dry rough surfaces against shiny smooth ones. Water with its glassy reflections that give illusions of solidity. Ripples and the very nature of movement within all of this. All combine to give body and structure to my work. I try not to be too literal, exploring the essence of myself within all of this. My response is the informed marks that I make and trusting them to be true.
I have been working on and developing ideas for the small scale sculptural pots. Starting many years ago whilst out in Japan I realized that boundaries were there only as a guideline and not as a point to stop exploring the potential of the material. This allowed me to see the possibilities ceramics could open up to me as an artist and a potter. Using ceramics as a vehicle I started to explore ways of producing surface qualities to etch, emboss, leave traces and imprints on, to explore the realms of mark making in a fluid manner. Using various glazes and engobes that are traditional in a contemporary way.
My latest venture is a reaction to the work produced over the past sixteen years and especially the last few firings. Also looking at the philosophy of the japanese tea bowl its importance to eastern and western potters alike. The tea bowl is steeped in tradition in the east and seen also as a spiritual practice, the ceremonies of tea drinking. Though we drink a lot of tea we have no such equivalent. In the east it is important culturally and tea ceremony is still to this day practiced by ordinary people.
I have chosen to make some sculptural tea bowls. The idea is to produce something that is familiar (the bowl), but attach it to something less familiar, the slab, which represents the handle but also on another level the landscape, the earth, the water and other elemental aspects, focusing on the symbolic importance rather than an actual use of the tea bowl.
I use very traditional glazes such as shino, wood ash and tenmoku, layering and creating a patchwork of colours rather than just one colour and moving into a different dynamic. There is a lot more to investigate with the surfaces I am trying to achieve which is really exciting and inspirational. I want to represent the feeling of holding a small fragment of the earth in your hands and that the fact it is made out of clay is really central to the work as clay is of the earth and is part of the earths structure.
The fact that clay has a life of it’s own and depending on what we do to it makes all the difference to the final outcome. The choice of glazes the choice of firings etc all have a profound effect on the finished pieces. Also the firing has to involve fire rather than an electric oxidized environment. I want the reduction atmosphere to be again part of the process and central to the maturing of the glazes that I use.
For all my sculptural work I choose to use stoneware clay with additions of porcelain to represent the refined aspect of ceramics as well as the down to earth clay body such as crank. This also allows me to gain more surface tension which in turn enables the clays to react and have an element of response materially creating something that isn’t controllable and doesn’t conform easily.