This year has been pretty intense. For subject, this meant an increased level of “self-study”, if you will. I relished this chance to get on with my throwing skills, especially in the evenings or on weekends, when the department was emptier and less noisy. As an autistic student, the studio environment can be incredibly draining, to the extent that it can get to be too much before it’s even 1400 if I am in uni in the morning. I have had to build several strategies around my limited energy resources, so that they can carry me further than they otherwise might (under strain) and so that I can use the resources I have as efficiently as possible. To me it is incredibly important to acknowledge the hard work that I end up putting into managing myself, because without that level of self-knowledge and problem-solving I would end up being incapable of doing any of my degree work at all.
The Mick Morgan masterclass was a turning point for me this year: examining and reproducing a vessel under his guidance led me into developing a series of my own work which took inspiration and drew on the skills his technique required.
Over the course of the year I also trained up various objectively separate manual skills revolving around tactile materials – I made a pattern for, and constructed a coat, as well as a stuffed bear, I made a quilt, and hand-bound books.
The technical project allowed me to focus on further highlighting texture in my work through the use of glaze. I initially tried reduction glazes, persevering for a long time and trying different recipes for depth. I had had my heart set on making a perfect celadon for my precise purposes, but the unreliable nature of the gas kilns really put me off reduction firing!! I examined several oxidation options and chose to use an oxidation-firing matcha green glaze with a yellow halo; I used the spray gun to apply it to my work, and it succeeded in creating a clear contrast between glazed areas and those which were not. Though different from my goals at the outset of the technical project, I found a glaze which suited my work, which for me, was the larger goal. I also found that a transparent glaze with copper carbonate in it which suited my original purposes when it came to emphasising depth in my work.
The ceramic works of Daniel Fisher and Takeshi Yasuda greatly influenced my aesthetic choices this year, and the ‘porcelain ruleset’: the material properties of porcelain which limit the ways in which it can be used – when it is fluid, how much pressure it can take to the surface when it is drier etc. also affected my work. I problem-solved this aspect using the very gradual addition of moisture with sponges when turning.
Carrying forwards from last year, my interest in passing knowledge through the tactile continued. I explored this through different media in order to better inform how I managed it in ceramic work. My pieces are made to be handled and held, informing the viewer of their properties and process through touch.
Below is a page from my notebook outlining key concepts in my work.
I found that challenging the way in which we present ceramic objects (i.e. not to the handled) within exhibition spaces sets back the goals of my work. I want to encourage others to instead take a more hands-on approach. My subject work (Flickr album here) is more closely aligned with my Dissertation Proposal (final ver) than ever.
I initially set up my show space to the best of my ability to reflect the importance of the familiar (by getting the attention of the viewer, and their coming into the space, rather than already being surrounded by it) and its role in communicating to the viewer.
I was recommended, however, to display more of my ceramic work (of which there is much) rather than focusing on the multi-media work I have produced this year.
This led to setup two: