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Sunday, 3 November 2013

What to make?

The issue of what to make is something that I have been grappling with since starting this project. The forms need to help illustrate the qualities possible with the wide and varied type of materials that I have collected. This is complicated by the fact that many of the clay or clay type materials that I am using are extremely difficult to use in conventional ways. size and complexity of form are often limited, but it is within the limitations I have set myself that I am managing to produce a startling variety of colour, texture and surface depth.
Considering the time that needs to be spent preparing these rocks for use and the fact that I often have pretty small amounts of them, it was obvious that I was not going to be making ranges of functional pots. The problem then is what will be the underlying structure of the work. The easiest option would have been to make the forms that are usually associated with woodfiring - vessels with a strong sculptural element, such as teabowls or tsubo. These forms come accompanied by a wealth of relatively well known references, which provide an easy entry point to view and understand the pots. The references are, however, from a culture different from my own and I am extremely wary of superficial cultural appropriation.
There is no tradition of high fired ceramics in Britain (pre-industrial revolution) for me to draw on. Rather, the pots that I am making are a representation of a ceramic landscape that might have existed if history had followed a different path. The forms that I am using to express these ideas are personal to me and have developed from my experience of the materials themselves, the places that I have collected from and what it is about ceramics that inspires me. They don't, however, come with the accessible baggage of well known ceramic references that help draw the viewer in. this is essentially what I have been working with over the summer.
And now, I have a workshop full of drying work, only one clay type still to use and the rock crushing has begun.
These tests are lineblends of rocks from the Malvern area, including red Triassic sandstone, at the top - and bottom an initial lineblend of materials from the Gog Magogs, near my home.

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