Where did it all begin: I guess I was quite late in finding my way to the art industry. I had never really even considered a career in the arts, I had focused a lot more on academic subjects, Maths and sciences, and so when I took the plunge to do a Foundation in Art and Design I was unsure if it was the right decision or not. I very quickly learned that it was. Fast forward three years and I have developed a ceramic practice that has got me selling and exhibiting my artwork on a regular basis. I have been selected for exhibitions by Royal Academicians and have been noted by Ceramic Review. I still can’t believe I ever questioned if I had made the right choice.
Medium/subject matter: I began my ceramic practice two years ago, under the tuition of Fred Gatley, I had always considered my interests to lie in painting, and had never considered working in the medium of ceramics, and so when, as part of my BA studies, I was given an introduction to the material I was surprised to find it so addictive. To have a material that can be used in such a wide variety of states and methods, for both functional and sculptural uses was captivating and I haven’t deviated from it since.
Time: Obviously producing ceramics is bound by time limitations, with preparation, drying and firing times taking up to several days at a time, however in terms of sculpting pieces I enjoy working quickly. I often use clay when slightly firm meaning I can work even faster, hand building my ceramic vessels. Depending on the size of the piece I will spend between 15 minutes and an hour sculpting the form, and then with leave the pot to firm up to leather hard. It is at this stage that I use slips and additions to the ceramic surface to add texture to the piece. About a week later I will have fired the piece and have it in a bisque stage and it is at this point that I begin glazing. Once again the length of time that this takes is variant on the size of the piece but I can normally finish it within an hour, and then just a day into the kiln and I am finished; about eight or nine days in total.
Experiences/effect: I would say that there aren’t any particular experiences that had some significant life changing effect that has then gone on to benefit me now as a practicing artist, but instead it is just having a desire for experience itself. I am always open and willing to turn my hand to anything, and have a go at everything to just try and gain some experience of it. Whether that be something as relevant as working for a gallery, or something more obscure like working as a gardener for a little while. I think it is all practice for networking and learning new ways to connect to people, which surely is the crux of any artist’s practice?
How you spend your day: I have been called a man of habit, and I openly admit that I cherish a good routine. I like early mornings and getting my teeth stuck into work as soon as possible. I am fairly prolific in terms of work rate, and if I don’t have a queue of stuff waiting to be bisque fired, or work stacked up ready to be glazed then I don’t consider myself to be working hard enough. The problem is that because of this I tend to get distracted by the fun of the ceramics studio and overlook the admin, spending long days in the studio is well and good but sometimes a visit or two to the office is in order!
Starting a new piece: My work is rarely designed, and rarely do I have any predisposition about how I want the work to be as a final product. I like to work as a reaction to the materials that I have to me at the time, and size and form almost come naturally. I am constantly researching about the history of ceramics, in particular that of the vessel, and then I have a strong interest into abstract expressionist painting, and for me that nexus of the two disciplines in my head sparks thoughts of “what if I did this, what if I did that?” and I guess I just continue that development as an ongoing process.
Heroes/heroines: I don’t think it is possible for me to talk about my artist heroes without mentioning Anselm Kiefer. The guy is without a doubt one of the first significant artists whose work resonated with me, his use of a wide range of material and the textural qualities appealed to me and still to this day his work never fails to amaze me. And similarly I feel the same of the ceramicist Gareth Mason. I guess you could say that Mason was the first ceramicist who inspired me to pursue a ceramic practice, and he is also one of the friendliest artists I have ever met, and has always been kind enough to engage in conversation with me when I have met him, which I am very thankful for.
Narrative, viewer: I am not sure that there is a narrative as such, because I am not trying to convey a story, but more that of a debate. I am very interested in that juncture between visual languages, and in particular at the moment, as mentioned, how painting is translated into the language of different mediums. I would be disappointed if a viewer couldn’t read elements of painting out of my ceramic work, but yet I still don’t think it is essential to the viewing of my art objects.
Titles: I struggle with naming my work; I often change my mind as to whether I should even name it at all. However recently I have been toying with the idea of naming pieces after painting mediums and display methods. I feel that the ironic use of painting terms opens up an interesting avenue of debate within my work and so I want to explore that further.
Future: I am very pleased to say that I have just shown work in Singapore, and have an exhibition in Milan in January. I have also have conversations about showing some work in Brussels towards the summer of 2016, and so I am elated to see my work travelling around the world, and hopefully it will continue to do so.
If you would like to see more of the artist's work click here for their website.
Publishing date of this interview 12/01/16