Ceramics & Glass (MA)
I am new to ceramics, coming primarily from a design background. In 2013 I graduated from Product Design at Central Saint Martins with First Class Honours. I then spent seven years as an in house designer for MADE.com and The Conran Shop. At The Conran Shop I designed the first own-label dinnerware collection produced since that designed by Terence Conran himself. My collection "Orbit" is still in production with the French porcelain masters Pillivuyt.
Through this and other professional ceramic projects I became fascinated by the way the material could take any form, and hold colour, pattern and texture so effectively. Whilst at the same time being the humble, wet, mushy substance we find under our feet.
During my time as a designer, I worked with many amazing artisan ceramic and glass manufacturers all over the world but wasn’t able to experience the joy and satisfaction of making things myself, something I am incredibly excited to be doing at the RCA now. Currently I am working from a studio at Kingsgate Workshops in London and enjoying getting my hands dirty.
My time as a designer gave me a thorough training in working with colour, form and surface, and an understanding of how people relate to objects. A feature of my work is expressing ideas through different mediums, and historically I have worked in textiles, furniture, packaging and lighting. I wish to use skills honed in these mediums to develop my own voice in ceramics and reconnect with my creative output.
During my time at the RCA I hope to continue to develop my practice focusing on materiality and colour, and push my work outside of the realm of the functional. I want to create more conceptual sculptural pieces, with integral meaning and narrative. A particular interest of mine is biology, and specifically the brain, a subject I hope to explore, attempting to materialise its complex abstract functions in my work.
Last term I worked with processes examining accident and destruction, inspired by my work thinking about and researching ceramics destroyed in a shipwreck. This fascination is prompted in part as a response to the turbulent times we find ourselves in. Chaos, transformation and neglect are themes which my work will continue to explore. I have been using clay's transformative ability as a way to express this, capitalising on the resulting marks of accident and destruction to create the pieces. The forms I create are defined by intervening with hand-made vessels when the clay is in contrasting states: soft and malleable or solid and brittle.
In my work this term I have been intrigued by nature’s intervention with man-made objects. A dynamic I wish to continue engaging with in my next project set in the context of an overgrown graveyard.
Scar Tissue - detail - crystallised sugar
Scar Tissue - detail
"Sea Sculpture" - my inspiration object, a piece of shipwrecked ceramics — © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
For my first project at the RCA 'Questioning the Collections' I selected this piece to research and reinterpret. Sea Sculpture is part of the permanent collection at the V&A museum. It is a curious object found amongst the cargo of a shipwreck. The sculpture was created when multiple cups, vases and bowls melted and fused together in a fire inside the hull of a ship sailing from China in 1725. In their destruction, the pieces became something entirely different: a piece of art. This new creation sank to the bottom of ocean, where it became encrusted with shells and coral.
Scar Tissue is an exploration of creation outside of control, inspired by the way Sea Sculpture came into existence unintentionally. Working with dropped ceramic vessels, the clay takes its shape from forces enacted accidentally. In this way the sculpture can be seen as a record of an event and an embodiment of a narrative, in the same way Sea Sculpture is. Blue and white is an archetypal language in ceramics; here blue fades to white telling the story of how the piece spent 200 years looking up through the sea. Scar Tissue is encrusted with melted sugar, a readily available material while I had no access to the RCA facilities and is intended to question to what extent trauma and experience are legible to the outside world.
Medium:Blue pigmented unglazed stoneware, sugar
Size:32cm x 15cm x 10cm
Broken Vessels - detail of encrusted sand
Broken Vessels - detail
Broken Vessels is an earlier iteration of the same exploration which led to Scar Tissue. Handmade cylindrical vessels were dropped and then bonded together. The vessels were torn apart and encrusted with lumps of clay reclaimed in pigmented water at various points in the drying process. This piece wears the marks of various traumas proudly, exhibiting cracks, holes and score marks. Colour chaotically and uncontrolledly breaking out across the surface from the pigmented water. In the kiln the piece underwent another uncontrollable transformation and broke apart, a happy accident which led to sand being encrusted on to the surface, once again referencing nature melded with man made objects.
Medium:Stoneware, blue pigment, sand
Size:40cm x 28cm x 10cm
Sugar Glass is a material used as a proxy for glass on film sets. These photographs show a variety of experiments I undertook using the clear material qualities of melted sugar. Sugar forms either a crystalline or clear structure after it is melted, depending partly on environmental factors during cooling. I began working with sugar as a way to explore transparent colour while we had no access to glass making facilities. During my experiments I became drawn to the reflective surface and the depth and nuance of the colour I could achieve.
Dropped Vessels focuses on the effect gravity has on the surface of clay. This piece is made up of two vessels, one vessel is dropped on its base and the other is dropped on its rim. These are then joined together. The piece once again explores accident as the form is created without my control. Each half is seen to be destroying the other and plays on the tension between the controlled, undisturbed form at each end and the chaos in the middle. This piece also came about as part of my research when developing Scar Tissue, in particular into gradients – which I have also explored here through drawing.