Distilling the ideas

It’s been some time since my last post but I’ve been busy in the studio after a the Christmas and New Year break. Time away is essential in the distillation of ideas and returning to the studio with only a matter of months before the exhibition opens at Ruthin Craft Centre in July has also helped focus my thinking.

Having immersed myself in the explorations with glaze embedded porcelain, I promptly decided to shelve them to return to the work on asymmetrical forms. Further glaze testing developed my pallet and applying glazes to the forms made in October along with a happy accident in the kiln took my ideas and the work to new dizzying heights of excitement!

The happy accident. A vessel falling whilst in the kiln and fusing itself to the kiln shelf with the glaze gave me the first surprise. The angle it finally came to rest at opened my mind to taking the forms further into a conversation about balance and poise. So far I had worked with asymmetry in a fairly orderly manner, steepening the angles of rims and bellies but not really engaging with more unsettling, restless angles and planes. The potential for positioning a vessel form in a more unexpected, precarious way excited me and took me back to my experiences of being in the unpredictable landscapes of Ceredigion and Gwynedd. The forms became more dynamic and encourage me to move more in order to take in their various sides, to see what happens to the lines and planes and sense of volume as I move around the form.

I played further with including additional elements such as props and kiln shelf fragments, deliberately overloading the glaze on the form, encouraging the fusion of form, prop and shelf. I liked the fact that the final piece revealed aspects of the ceramic process and gave a sense of precariousness and spontaneity because of the relationship and juxtaposition between the various objects. I wondered, and doubted, whether the unsettling sense of spontaneity could be achieved as strongly by placing the form at an angle from a self standing foot. I set out to see and now at the end of the second week of this exploration, I find the work in its strongest place yet.

The base used for my usual Ellipse forms provides a good starting point, with the elevation from the foot adding a greater sense of the unexpected as the planes above lean at angles that challenge the sense of balance and stability in both the form and me! These forms reveal their ancestry in my previous Ellipse Vessels but extend the vocabulary. There are more surprises here as the forms at one moment present parallel lines and planes which then twist and turn away taking different directions, appearing and disappearing unexpectedly. They lean into your space and then away from you appearing off-balance and about to fall. They are at times awkward and uncomfortable but have something solid and certain about them too. Now the next challenge is to fire and glaze them…