This presentation is a brief overview of my progress so far as well as looking into my future development.
These are some reference images I took from ceramic artist Tina Vlassopulus. The first thing about these works that caught my eye was the gesture of playful movement within the ceramic forms. There is also a suggestion towards the human figure within the ambiguous shapes that these forms take. I am also attracted to the subtle colouration displayed on the works. Vlassopulus uses a stained clay body to achieve these sophisticated colours that really adds to the elegance of her ceramics.
Vlassopulus’s work is influenced by characteristics in friendship, conversation and also influenced by the natural world around her. These influences are intelligently carried out through the ceramic forms and placement within curation. I am also interested in creating pieces that hold conversations within themselves but in a more intimate manor and setting and it is due to the concept that Tina Vlassopulus’s work was brought to my attention.
My work explores the human figure in an expressive manor that mimics the subtle movements gestured between bodies within a formed relationship. These movements seen by the sensual ceramic forms combined with the composition of the ceramic body of work echoes a conversation between the works.
The form my vessels are taking on are sourced from the nude figure. With the information I have gathered through sketching I have been drawn to make interpretations of the figurative form that gesture towards the sense of movement and I created this in white grogged stoneware vessels. I have got this result through coiling which allows sensitivity towards creating the specific shape desired. The terra sigilata was applied through spraying it onto the surface of the vessels which then emulates the texture of skin through the image of pores.
Through the process of making, decorating and displaying my vessels, it seems that they form a conversation between themselves as vessels and bodies. Displayed on a bed of clay the sense of intimacy is prevalent within the scene.
For this first term we have been given a project brief of designing a bowl to be exhibited in Llantarnam Grange. This project brief has given me the opportunity to develop my own skills aiding towards a personal style and unique outcome within my practice. This has lead me to design and create a bowl that takes on gestures of an anthropomorphic form. The hand building process I prefer to use within my work is coil building. Over the term I have found that this coiling technique helps give shape to an organic form as its quite a primitive way of building. The slow process of building upwards in coils allows me to form unique shapes and movements within my ceramic work, an undulating movement throughout the form of my bowls that adds to the appearance of a figurative form. The surface of my bowl was created through the addition of porcelain slip which was then saggar fired with the combustible materials of banana peel, saw dust and cabbage leaves. I was hoping these materials would leave fleshy toned marks on my bowl but it left my piece with a soft smoky effect that was more subtle than what I was hoping for but still had an almost skin like texture and surface colour.
My work approaches the functional ware that is a bowl and turns that form into a sculptural and decorative piece. My work involves bringing the sculptural ideology to studio pottery. I want to bring my bowls to life through the embodiment of the human figure without my work being an accurate representation of the body. I want my bowls to still be recognisable as studio pottery pieces. Throughout this project I was influenced by artists such as Jennifer Lee and Tina Vassopulus. These artists work in a similar way as I do being that they take organic forms and merge them with vessel forms. Jennifer Lee’s work looks more upon the surrounding landscape. Her vessel forms consist of earthy tones and aquatic blues suggesting a serene landscape within her cast forms. Tina Vassopulus is another hand builder. She hand builds pieces expressing energy of a latent nature that suggests a more bodily approach to the sculptures forms.
I would like to use what knowledge I have gained throughout this bowl project to develop my work for the future. I would like to look more into relationships and how they can be interpreted through the forms of my ceramic pieces. I would also like to develop the bodily form of the pot itself. I could practice both of these points by making many vessel forms during the next term. These forms will be similar to the bowl I created for Llantarnam Grange but much more scaled down. With the forms being on a smaller scale I will be able to make them in better time and more sufficiently as coil building is quite a slow process. This will also help with my time management skills which I need to work on as I am constantly finding myself rushing towards the end of projects and handing in work that is not up to my true potential.
For my project I am looking into the figurative form focussing on the surface quality to imply a fleshy skin tone effect. To achieve this effect I used a number of different processes. For this skin tone appearance I wanted to look into the firing process, more specifically saggar firing using the raku kiln. I decided to use this method as with the use and experimentation of natural combustible materials I could find the correct pinks, peaches and purples suitable for the undertone colour of skin. Also by firing with this method I am able to create multiple individual pots each with a slightly different outcome.
As I decided to use this firing process it was important for me to find a suitable clay because firing in a raku kiln is quite a brutal way to fire ceramic ware and is very important that I use a heavily grogged clay to overcome this issue. I decided to use grogged white being as it would be able to withstand the harsh firing process but it also is a white bodied clay allowing a blank background for the fumes from the combustible materials to soak into.
I will be firing a set of test tiles with in a tin foil saggar using a variety of natural materials.
The first image is taken within the barrel the tin foil saggar’s are set up in to be fired, the test tiles to be fired are wrapped up in the foils with the natural combustible materials. The second image is showing how the barrel has been stacked for firing.
These tiles came from the tin foil saggar that contained table salt. The dark brown coloration indicates where the salt fumes had soaked into the clay within the saggar. The heat within the barrel had slightly broken down the tin foil leaving smoke marks on the tiles surrounding the salt colours.
The combustible material I used for these test tiles were chilli flakes which left this result of deep reddish purple colour desirable for the content of my work.
The Combustible material I used for these test tiles was sea salt. The colours were not what I was expecting as chloride found in salt would usually leave results of subtle tans and yellows. I found these tile results very similar to that of the test tiles fired in table salt though the colour from the sea salt leaves a much richer finish on the surface with the multiple shades of purples browns and yellows.
These test tiles were fired in a tin foil saggar that contained spinach. This test was a fail. I was hoping that the iron within the spinach would react against clay leaving red/brown tones though there didn’t seem to be much of a reaction at all.
These test tiles were fired with the combustible material of bell pepper. Another failed test as the fumes from the bell pepper completely oxidised within the foil saggar resulting in this deep smokey black surface colour. This could be due to the tin foil saggar breaking down under the heat of the barrel firing allowing air to react with the fumes.
These test tiles were fired with sliced beetroot. Again not much happened within the reaction process though has left subtle markings of pinks and peach colours. The pink fumes could be a reaction from the potassium found within the beetroot.
Through firing these test tiles within a tin foil saggar I have found that the chemicals within the natural combustible materials leave subtle markings on the surface of the naked clay body. For future tests I would like to make a terra sigillata slip in white. This would leave a much smoother surface texture and whiten the clay body so that the reaction from the fumes within the saggar are really pulled into the surface colour resulting in much more noticeable and brighter colours.
While looking at the two bowls in the image above it was quite interesting to see them as individuals. Each bowl though using the same technique both came out very differently and I then thought about the relationship I had created with each individual whilst creating them, though every artist does have a bond with every creation made its very rarely focussed on. As I was already making figurative pieces I started thinking about the relationships we create with individuals and thought for future reference to start creating more intimate pieces of work, forms that interact with each other as well as stand as an individual personality’s. It would be interesting to go around gathering information of people during their daily lives interacting with friends and family and seeing how I can recreate these relationships within my pots in the future.
My work represents the human figure in an expressive manor, looking upon the parts of the body that are usually hidden under dress, bringing on a sense of sensuality and intimacy. For me there are several links I find connecting intimacy with my pots. There’s the relationship I build through the long process of coil building my work, the concept that my work is based on the nude form itself and also the firing process and final result as I undress the bowls from the foil saggar that give each pot a unique personal finish.
The form my bowls are taking on are sourced from the nude figure. I am constantly gathering information from life drawing sessions, as this is the best way to have a full understanding of the forms I wish to emulate. With the information I have gathered through sketching I have been drawn to make interpretations of the figurative form that gesture towards the sense of movement and I created this in white grogged stoneware vessels. I have got this result through mould making and then coil building onto the press mould. Coiling allows sensitivity towards creating the specific shape desired. Ive coated the vessels in porcelain slip to create the texture of skin as well as sponged on oxides to add a stippling effect an expression of pores. Once I finish building the form and applying slip, my bowls are then fired with an old technique called saggar firing though instead of using a clay saggar I substituted that for tin foil, which saves on time and is more efficient.
In the future my work will continue to experiment with surface colour and texture reaching out to discover how new materials stains/oxides and combustibles can be combined with the elements in raku firing to represent the sensual qualities of the human condition.