End of year presentation Term three
During the last year of university study and practice I feeling have come on no end and am really in my element now. I have Researched and delved deeply into the materiality of clay, from creating my own groggs and slips to firing at differing temperatures mid and overture ranges for terracotta especially. I love the burnt effect and the darkened rich embodiment that is added to my forms.
Throughout the last term I have focussed solely on the concept of volcanology for my work to be transformed. I have looked at artists such as Pippin Drysdale for her natural organic quality, as she works on land land forms to represent famous landmarks such as Ayers Rock. These representations and knowledgeable insights into her practice have been very soothing and have reinforced my understanding of natural forms. My greatest pleasure whilst researching well renowned ceramic artists has been just studying the forms from every angle, I take great pleasure in making and although I have been told my work is not finished, sometimes I see it as just that. I like to leave some air of questioning and curiosity about my work and when fully glazed I can also see other colour choices more fitting and just want to remake the same shape over and over again, showing my love for ceramics and my need to create.
My experimental work in my adopted workshop and the glaze room has really taken over from this previous making obsession. I have trialled and tested fifteen to twenty glazes at various temperatures between 850 through to 1280 on various clays. To include my own grogg of terracotta and various iron rich glaze chemicals (red and synthetic irons), smooth and standard terracotta, sanded buff and smooth of which both I very much enjoyed polishing the surface of with a wet cloth and a pebble or spoon. They gave a very rich feel and I felt a circumstantial difference in quality. Ash white for which I loved the powdery dry feel like bone when dry, before and after bisque firing. A real sturdy, strong and reliable quality of which I preferred over the use of white st. Thomas although I did choose the st Thomas for the vessels and ash white mainly for my organic forms or clouds. I experimented a lot more with a bought glaze Glut Hellrot supplied by Bath Potters on all of the clays I had. I made various slips and grogged porcelain with various stains as well as adding cobalt to the mix in one which gave me a soothing navy blue and I later decided to glaze over the surface of this with the glut hellrot which resulted in a remarkable orange through to deep Scarlett on two of my organic forms. I have not stopped there with my work and am still mixing up porcelain slips in my space with the last of my clay.
My tests with crater glazes involving a lot of Nephaline syenite and an even more astounding amount of layers resulted in a most pleasurable end. I really could not have asked for a better end result as a tried and tried again sending a fair amount of clay wedges and failed pieces alike to the grave yard. I trialled 3% and 8% of grey stain in the standard crater glaze recipe. They were extremely nice yet on the first trial I found them to be a little patchy, on the second I upped the grey stain ratio and the nephaline to double. This gave me a beautiful sensation when touched as if putting your ear to a shell when touched, instead it sounded like the sea washing and bubbling over dry sand. I have really tried hard to refrain from spoiling this effect and touching it until exhibition opening night however it has been hard not to, myself and others have touched the surface a lot however it has been an irresistible achievement. I then went on to using a ratio of cobalt, iron and. For black as the standard stain had been heavily over used by others. It gave a rather nasty brown and an unprofitable grey however the third time it was a lovely thick crackled black just like lava bubbles with schlag metals oozing fourth.
My firings and kiln work has come a long way doing a firing in every kiln both reduction and oxidation as well. Keith and his wife Caroline have been amazing and let me have free run of one of their studios, I’ve been able to sculpt and turn all through the week on the wheels and fire through the days and nights. I’ve done around 10 firings or more and a few test kilns, it’s been great being able to fire in my own time. Even though I’m not quite as proficient on the university kilns I’ve still got to grips with Keith’s kilns and I’ve loved it. I’ve been invited to a ceramic craft day through Keith and now have a spare key to his workshop where I can make all I like. I’m really thankful to Matt, Caroline, Kris and Gemma for all their help and knowledge being passed on too.
I’ve had a clear concise image in my head from start to finish and I am ecstatic to see it finally come together, first there are my main body of work which I previously wrote about. My inspiration has mainly been a fire slowly burning inside of me, the volcano embodies this and let’s me relate to it with its ever impending doom being unleashed upon the surroundings and then there are the many different cultural societies beliefs on volcanoes, gods and other deities. The volcano is mystical to me and the more I have looked into foreign cultures of the pacific and Scandinavian isles interpretation of volcanoes and the aura that resides in them, the power and ferocity of the gods people believe inhabit the volcano’s innards has fascinated me. I have tried to follow on from our Ken Stradling’s Scandinavian focused project last year and strongly align myself with insightful based work.
I have chosen reds for my main body of work to enrich and embody the volcano, with all the highest composites of combined (schlag) metals involved, Iron being the richest. I have used various other compounds such as gold, one of the richest. Cobalt for a thicker body and Nephaline Syenite the giver of crater glazes. Not just for colour but their material qualities have been useful for their lightening and darkening properties, where as cobalt was originally used in Islamic and Eastern porcelain work, mine has been for the base clay material staining it and changing the material outcome.
Throughout this last term and year I have kept on continuously following some important words from Keith Monroe and Duncan Ayscough about the design and invention phase of making, I have heeded them best as I can. Instead of working on glazes, composition and the making all at once I have had a clear image in my head from start to finish and have progressively worked through one phase at a time. No distractions, just whittling it down to the best of them all and I’m extremely pleased with where it has ended up.