“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” - Edgar Degas
The objective of my work is to make ceramics which are considered to be individual pieces of art, to make forms which emotionally stimulate and/or satisfy the observer, and to make surfaces which retain interest and engagement with the piece. As the light changes in a room, or a vessel is rotated, a new perspective should arise to retain the engagement between viewer and object. Degas’ infamous quote feels very apt in this sense.
I have always been drawn to rough, hewn and natural/man-made surfaces, both in ceramics and in the world in general, and this fascination has become embedded into my work. Growing up in the coastal North West of England, I was surrounded by the sea and open nature, something taken for granted until gradually I was deprived of that environment whilst moving around the UK. Combined with a deep fascination of biological systems, culminating in a post-doctoral research career in molecular genetics at Cambridge, the wonder of surface, process and experimentation has always driven me.
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” - George Bernard Shaw
“….. I am sick of looking at things. It seems to come out better sometimes when you've got your eyes closed. When you try to control something, it can be so dead.” - Martin Creed, 2012
In my ceramics, I exploit exaggerated classical glaze flaws which, when understood, controlled, manipulated & correctly applied, I believe exhibit great inherent beauty. I am driven to make work with visually strong, technically difficult, fluid and reactive surfaces. The aim is to balance the triumvirate of glaze chemistry against the vessel form and the appropriate hue.
With the possession of some fundamental principles, glaze development/improvement is largely 80% controlled, but there is always the 20% unknown and uncontrollable aspect which is what gives life and potential to my work. The chance to stumble across a new fantastic reaction which seeds new ideas and vessel forms is exciting. Conversely, it also means I have an extremely high attrition rate of failed ceramics, but I consider that to be a valid part of the process.
“To see far is one thing: going there is another” – Constantin Brancusi
It is fearful work. I do pose myself complex technical challenges to master the decorative effect I desire, but work on the basis that both controlled progression and mistakes can lead to wonderful things. I liken this creative process to a biological principle embedded within my previous genetics research background – evolution is an ongoing process of positive, neutral and negative impact upon living organisms, determined by both random and environmentally-driven variable mutation rates.
I see little difference between that and my studio work of both glaze
and form development. The difficulty, however, is twofold. It is primarily
being able to look at a product of the kiln and project forward to what
it could deliver to me in the future. Secondly, inevitably, it is fulfilling