The process

Art, Ceramics

Another week of self-doubt. If I wasn’t doing a course I would give up – that’s why I put myself through academic courses. Once started I always finish. Otherwise I’d abandon the project and switch to something easier or new. Current negative thinking mainly focused on comparing myself unfavourably to others, particularly as regards technical skills.

It did help to go to a lecture by two Royal Academy students, in which they spoke clearly about their confusion and doubts as to ‘what is art?’ and whether what they are doing is art, and if so, why. Even much further on in an art career, the self-doubt is paramount and needs to be worked through. One of them referred to not-knowing as the ‘generative force’.

So in my not-knowing and total lack of technical expertise last week, what I did was to mix dry iron oxides with wet crank clay straight from the bag; and to sieve mud from a cave under the Mendips and apply it to bisque-fired test tile and head-mask. But that’s not what the following pics are – these are the tests from mixing locally-sourced plant material with clay, and from applying oxides mixed with water directly onto raw clay heads.

And I wasn’t happy with my bronze glaze tests either. Applied it too thinly, perhaps. A re-glaze in the kiln now. Ah well, there’s a Group Crit on Thursday. I’ll either get endorsement for the direction I’ve been taking, or be shot down and redirected. Who knows?

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fir and beech leaf test tiles (ground up plant material mixed with clay)

forsythia and hydrangea test tiles (ground up plant material mixed with clay)

forsythia and hydrangea test tiles (ground up plant material mixed with clay)

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yellow ochre on head-mask slightly inspired by Peter Hayes, pre-firing

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yellow ochre and black iron oxide sponged and painted onto head-mask, pre-firing

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yellow ochre and black iron oxide painted onto ‘mediaeval’ head mask

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more ‘little gritty gods’ – twisted and grumpy, apparently

 

Recent exhibitions in Bath

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition

I didn’t manage to get round to blogging last week, so will have to do two in quick succession. First up is about some exhibitions in Bath I’ve been to recently – as per the title – then I’ll post separately about my ongoing work.

Last Thursday I found myself at the launch of War and Peace at the BRLSI. I’d stayed on after Uni to attend a lecture there (on Mesolithic archaeology, another of my interests) and walked into a party, celebrating Deenagh Miller and Brian Goodsell’s work. Brian’s watercolours are inspired by natural elements and geology, while Deenagh’s was the War side of things, with large paintings of images taken from photographs in the media. They were fundraising for Medicins Sans Frontieres with a speaker from the organisation, and in the light of the following day’s events in Paris I hope this continues to make people think, feel and donate to those in need. Event poster here.

Then on Tuesday this week I went to see two ceramic artists currently exhibiting, as recommended by my tutor Kate. Sarah Purvey has a selection of her large textured (and dare I say again, ‘elemental’) pots in the exhibition Hallowed Ground at David Simon Contemporary (website). She graduated from Bath Spa with an MA in 2009 and has had many exhibitions since, focusing obsessively on a particular form and making practice with different finish effects. Gorgeous work. Find more of it here.

At Beaux Arts Bath (website) I discovered Jane Muir’s work, ‘idiosyncratic hand-painted figures’ hand modelled with delicate glaze finishes, quirky and accomplished. I particularly liked the figures in boxes. Find out more about her here and some of my photos below (I asked for permission at the gallery to take these).

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Brian Goodsell’s work at BRLSI

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Brian Goodsell’s work at BRLSI

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Deenagh Miller’s work at the PV, BRLSI

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Some of Sarah Purvey’s large pots at David Simon Contemporary, Bath

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Some of Sarah Purvey’s large pots at David Simon Contemporary, Bath

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Jane Muir’s work at Beaux Arts Bath

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Jane Muir’s work at Beaux Arts Bath

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Jane Muir’s work at Beaux Arts Bath

 

Back to the studio

Ceramics

Last week I had a car problem so only got in to Uni on two days, one of which was a day-long group crit. The joy. But I’ve been making heads (again) using a different technique – my tutor told me to stop making them as pots and try a building technique using torn triangles of rolled-out clay, placed into a hollow form cut from foam. So I did my own version, which turned out to be torn strips of rolled-out clay, placed over newspaper forms. While working through some issues around my childhood dyspraxia and autism spectrum stuff. It was wildly uncomfortable, but I did read art books to calm myself, especially ‘Naked Clay‘ by Jane Perryman which gave me some pointers towards surface decoration (or lack of).

Those first heads in the new style seemed to hit the spot at the group crit, so this week I carried on, using various clays and mixtures.

I also have this idea for displaying them using sound triggered by motion sensors – a consequence of learning to use Soundcloud during the Richard Long week. So I’ve also been researching how this might happen.

Here are a few of the new heads at the pre-bisque stage. I’m also continuing a range of small figurines called ‘Little gritty gods’, as play, and to have some small items to sell in a local gallery. I intend to experiment with a bronze glaze on these.

New style head 1

New style head 1

New style head 2

New style head 2

New style head 3

New style head 3

New style head 4

New style head 4

New style head 5

New style head 5