I have long been fascinated by alchemy and the ever changing nature of materials. From creating lead and wax funnels woven with copper wire, as an art student. I remember melting these structures in brick ‘makeshift’ kilns.
I now find myself still intrigued by the process of change in materials.
In the early 90’s I witnessed a relatively unknown student called Alexander McQueen’s fashion show. Bowled over by his observations of the diaphanous nature of fabric akin to the Vierges vestales, marble. Raffaelo Monti. I remember being so inspired. He was a master architect of fabric.
I spent the next few months with a fibre glass specialist in East london creating bodices and plaster casts in my spare time. Extraordinarily McQueen saw these in the shop I was working in at the time. This led to commissions for his 1994 ‘Hunger’ fashion show. Plaster and acrylic body moulds. The bodice, worn as a wormery at the time, was sold a few years ago at auction to The Brighton & Hove City Museum Archive collection.
My intrigue into clay began 14 years ago. I had recently had Aggie, my first child. I became fascinated by the processes of vitrification. transformations and the alchemy of clay to ceramic.
I became fascinated with the egg shape. It’s symbology, so iconic, modern and pure.
I began by creating a plaster press mould for an egg vessel. On a practical level I also wanted to store eggs without putting them in the fridge! This was pre any other form of egg storage you could buy from the shops at the time.
I became particularly drawn to the ‘instant’ firing Japanese method known as Raku. I was kindly given a homemade oil drum kiln and set to firing at sunset outside our garage. As the light faded it created the perfect condition for judging the right colour of heat for firing. Like magic, each time an unpredictable joyous result.
Sparks lighting up a darkening sky as you withdraw the ware at 1000 C and cracking.
Continuing my obsession I discovered the local Wealden clay, which transforms to a beautiful earthenware golden colour and produced pots of gold! Finding an ammonite in the process.
I picked up a cheap second hand sit on wheel and broke the spine of Leach’s “A Potter’s Book”.
Mainly self taught, I continued adding up the 10,000 hours. Exploring further the nature of Raku, lithographic printing onto earthenware, scraffito and then to applying my own sketches as decals.
Last year I discovered (in a recently deceased family member’s dillapidated garage, near Rye) a treasure trove of beautifully handwritten victorian diaries. Detailing expeditions to Norway in the 1800’s. Photographic plates taken with the camera still in tact. Victorian glass slides, surgical instruments encased in mildewed purple velvet. Unused, beyond repair.
Amongst these were painstakingly written ornithological writings in leather bound, marbled books. Professional letters, and original art work from my great uncle Norman Ticehurst’s book; The Mute Swan.
Inspired to bring some of this ‘history’ back to life. I set about choosing certain photographic plates and writings from the bird and nature diaries.
The ‘ Emblem, Living Museum‘ porcelain collection is a result of that.