Having just embarked on my year long Step Change Fellowship with the Artist Benevolent Fund at Manchester School of Art, I have chosen to keep a monthly blog to document my time here. I have decided to treat this fellowship as a residency, and will refer to it thus. I have just completed my MFA in Fine Art which culminated in an exhibition at HOME. The work that I decided to exhibit consisted of four ceramic sculptures which were all simple in their construction, but complex and layered in their glazes.
When I started the MFA, ceramics was not at the forefront of my practice. Gradually it became my primary medium, and it took me till the end of my MFA to learn the required techniques which would best suit my influences and interests which involve architecture and ruins.
My fascination with ancient ruins began when I visited The Acropolis of Athens, I was immediately struck by the relationship to a child's playground, perhaps a playground of the mind, where fragments can be arranged, like toy blocks. On the 'site', countless broken sections of columns, architraves, reliefs and sculptures lay strewn on the floor or propped up on temporary supports. The site is alive in its transitory open state. What should our experience be when viewing ancient sites? Should we concentrate on envisioning what was? Or might we enjoy the ‘ruin’, the broken pieces and the accidental qualities like water trapped in a cup-shaped fragment?
I believe I have been indirectly developing a practice which explores my attraction to the fragment, in allowing something to be unfinished or broken. I am also interested in the way which these fragments are 'restored' only for display purposes, where a different material is used to 'fill in the gaps'. Some of my work is made with a process of building up and removing sections of clay, appearing like ruined modernist houses or architectural models. While others are simpler in their relationship to structure, like a block or an archway. With colour I am drawn to that which is inherent and dynamic found in stone which I have tried to reflect through my use of layered dry glazes, oxides and multiple firings.
‘The very materials with which we build retain the vulnerabilities of their natural state...chemical change belongs to the beauty and liveliness of stone: it is the natural carving that records time in immediate form within the pattern and colour of surface.’ Brain Dillon, Ruin Lust (2014)
Moving forward, it is my intention to continue producing ceramic sculptures which have this relationship to colour, but are more ambitious in scale. I would also like their display to more considered and for them to be less simple in form. I will soon be writing a proposal for a solo show for the end of my 'residency' of work which merges my more architectural work, the simpler geometric forms and my dry and 'weathered' glazes.