I’ve always been a maker. I suppose part of it was having a practical father and growing up in post-war Britain with its make-do mentality. Saturday morning kids’ cinema with Flash Gordon led to ray guns using scraps from Dad’s shed with its boxes of salvaged screws and grommets. Later on, Handicraft at school directed me towards an initial career as a Woodwork teacher. When I discovered clay, which was one of those life-changing events, it was a natural shift from using slabs of wood to using slabs of clay and taking more school to become an Art teacher and practicing Artist.
It’s easy to see the Design Heritage in my work; the planned formal relationships of line and space. However much I admire loose, direct work and make forays into working that way, I always come back to a modernist consideration of spatial relationships and a careful abstraction and refining of forms.
The Architectural forms of my geometric works are ultimate abstractions of pure sculptural statement. These involve elements which I previously used for pieces that had semi-functional aspects within the vessel tradition; pieces that had often drawn from diverse cultural references with suggestions of ritual significance. The sculpture began while working in Japan in 2001and initially referenced work of some modernist painters, but the elements of basic geometry quickly became a language of their own.
For some time I had also been wanting to explore more flowing forms that would be scaled up versions of carvings and have had several of these carvings in soft firebrick sitting on a shelf in the studio for some years. In 2006 I had a three month Residency at Sturt Contemporary Craft Centre in Australia. I used this opportunity to evolve into a new way of working. Initially, moving from what I knew, I translated the forms into curved planes which I firmed up in slings and worked with them much softer than I was used to with the geometric forms. Since these initial pieces, I have developed a method of pinching together small accretions like a mud wasp and the process is much more contemplative and akin to the act of carving.
With both the geometric and carved pieces I am limited by the size of the kiln. Initially, being able to lift it was another “rule”. Now I add bases and get help when I need to move pieces!…..
Another direction I’m pursuing is assembling individual forms after firing. This assemblage allows me to transcend the height limitations of the kiln. Interestingly, these forms incorporate ideas and processes from both my approaches with the geometric and the carved work. The forms have echoes sometimes of figures, something of Inukshuks and even Totems.