This exhibition is postponed to 2022!
Pablo Picasso: “ What does it mean for a painter to use one artist’s style or another? You have to paint like someone else…. But you make a mess of everything. And it’s when you make a mess of everything that you are yourself.”
This quote struck a chord with me as a student back in 1999 at Loughborough College of Art & Design. I was trying to develop my own style, and searching for a way forward, some inspiration. I was trying too hard. I applied this liberating philosophy to my making – it became energetic, experimental and free.
I realise this quote also applies also to the challenges in life and is not just limited to creative struggles. It’s how we assemble what happens in our lives, and make sense of our experiences, which build the whole personal picture. As humans, we have a head, 2 legs, 2 arms, etc – all the necessary ingredients to make us ‘complete’, the finished product. Pots, by comparison, have a base, rim, form, maybe function, etc…to make the finished product. Perfect? Not always. As we go about our life, stuff happens, good and bad…some of it we deal with…some of it not…sometimes handle it well, other times not…but hopefully we make sense of these challenges. We all have cracks, weak areas, and bruises, partnered with fortitude, stamina and resolute areas of our characters. They all form part of the whole to reveal a vital, strong, yet vulnerable, individual. I compare this to my work and the way I make it. There are cracks, fissures, and tears. There are joins that are normally potential weaknesses, but I develop them to become strong features in the pieces. Some areas are soft; some are bold and rugged. Altogether they emerge as strong, unique and confident forms.
The impulsive desire we all have to want to touch, and the inherent emotional need to be touched, underpins the technical, creative and emotional foundations of my work. My personal intuitive touch is an integral part of these pots – a dent in the soft clay, a tear, rip, and a finger or handprint in the glaze. I want each pot to convey its own spirit and character…to have a pulse and a heartbeat. I want the marks to reflect the journey of exploration and learning in each pot, just as a wrinkle or dimple depicts expression and character in a human face.
I use a combination of throwing and hand building techniques, which create highly textured, tactile and energetic surfaces. The conical bowls are inspired by the natural landscape of nearby Derbyshire. They are pinched and coiled, swathed with layers of slips and glaze. The Australian bush inspires the vertical forms, Bark vessels, after a residency there in 2013.