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I am Brighton based Ceramic Artist working from my studio at Phoenix Art Space. I was once referred to as a ‘reverse Johnny Vegas’ who started his life as a potter and then became an actor, I began my life as an actor and then became a potter. When I left Drama School I was told to always learn a new skill during times of unemployment. In those days there was a huge selection of adult education courses and I signed up to quite a few! But it was a pottery course that captured my heart and was the beginning of a journey to where I am now. With the encouragement of my tutor Caroline Wyman I enrolled for the BTEC National Certificate Art and Design in Ceramics which I completed before studying another year towards my HNC. After my daughter was born we moved from London to Brighton and I applied for my first studio space with Red Herring Artists in 2001. As I look back at my time as a maker I realise that my studio has always been my sanctuary and somewhere for me to have my creative head on alongside of being a Mum. I have been privileged to be a maker in this artistic and inspired city which has so many opportunities and support networks for artists. I exhibit my work in selected shows through the year as well as locally in the Open Houses during May. I am also very happy to welcome people to my studio at Phoenix Art Space by appointment.
My work is fundamentally concerned with the treatment of its surface. I aim to combine the two techniques of carving into clay and the burnishing of its surface, into one coherent theme. Carving into clay creates a three dimensional texture using a series of different levels and depths. It disturbs the surface of the clay body, encouraging the eye to move in, rather than bounce away. The technique of burnishing and then smoke firing changes the state of the clay body by first sealing it and then introducing different facets of light and shade by carbonising randomly selected areas. I sometimes apply gold, silver or copper leaf to the inside of the forms after the final firing. The ideas of Henry Moore and Ewen Henderson are inspirational to me, in their belief that you should let the material take the lead pushing each one beyond its limit. The curvaceous and uncomplicated structures of Anish Kapoor and Barbara Hepworth, and Gabriele Koch’s gourd like burnished pots, all appear to have mastered the skill of uniting form with surface which is what I hope to achieve within my work.
I use a variety of techniques to make the forms including hand building, throwing and slip casting. The carved piece are formed before having the designs carved out by hand, they are then fired up to 1260°C. The burnished forms are repeatedly burnished after a fine coloured slip is applied. They are bisque fired to 1000°C and then smoke fired in an open container. For this I use a mixture of different types of hard and soft wood shavings to achieve a variety of effects in the carbonising of the surface. Beeswax is applied when the pots are still warm giving them a soft, silky and tactile finish. I have recently included a range of work experimenting with underglaze transfers and the layering of glazes.
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