At the beginning of my teaching career, I was fortunate enough to work as a children’s art teacher in London. My classroom was set up for printing, painting, and photography, but it didn’t stop us working in any materials including clay. Ceramic work was a great leveller when working with children and of course very therapeutic too. I spent the next 25 years working with children with special needs, emotional and social difficulties and high functioning autism.
In the early years, my initial clay work was mainly coil and slab built and decorated using coloured unglazed slips. My first kiln was an old waste paper bin with a lid, chicken wire, sawdust, turpentine, and newspaper. It was very experimental, even incorporating shoe polish to give surface and colour to pieces.
Having left teaching three years ago, I am able to spend most of my time now in the studio. Currently, I am trailing out different clay materials and recording my findings for future reference, a systematic approach to my artistry. I joined the BPSS about two years ago and was awarded the second prize in the society’s annual competition 2017 – ‘Flower Power’.
‘Earth and water’ making ceramics ~ ‘Wind and Fire’ concentrating on Raku :
I have set up a place of work in an open, concreted area outside my studio, using the traditional materials for effect on the ceramics such as wood shavings, newspaper, Obvara, horses hair and feathers. Now I am experimenting with applying materials using spraying techniques before and after firing, making oxide crackle glazes and experimenting with household and found materials to use in reduction buckets. The inspiration for my work is found in my immediate environment. Fungus found in the trees, vegetable plot, fields, and woods, dried plants, rotting wood. Making collections of natural and found objects, taking photographs of fungus in situ so not to disturb ecosystems and making sketches from observation and imagination.
Learning never stops. As a ceramicist, the surprises continue to happen especially on opening the kiln after a fire. Never fails to excite me too. As long as the sun is shining, no rain – I can fire up the kiln (up-cycled oil drum) any time of year.
April 13, 2018
Ceramic, M - P