“I just take it out on the clay!”

Free me from this benevolent dictatorship. Ceramic. 40cm approx width

“It just makes me so cross!” she said, sipping her red wine as though it might soothe her sensibilities. “How could they, I mean, how could WE?” And it doesn’t take long to work out what anyone is talking about at the moment. Trump and Brexit (the name still makes me cringe, like it’s a child’s toy or a fun cereal!) dominate the news, and my social media newsfeeds, AND so many conversations; fuelled with high emotion. Everyone laughs when I tell them that I am developing my coping strategies by smashing up china. But, that is exactly what I have been doing. Plate sets are easy to smash. Old sculptures harder. They have thicker edges and sometimes absolutely refuse to yield. Even under a hammer. Titanium sculptures!! My experiments continue.

Pieces from one work are smashed and used in another. Work is glazed multiple times with colours developing their own dynamics. I cannot wait to open the kiln; to see what has changed. 

Work whilst still in the kiln.

Nothing comes out again looking remotely as it did when it went in. Pieces are secured together by the glaze, belonging and finding their place securely within a montaged new work. Conversations around me are inspiring and moving. Titles snatched from eavesdropping. There is nothing pure. It is reincarnated, upcycled, damaged and broken. It is a ghost of what it once was. And therefore it is richer, more fascinating, and bizarrely more alive. There is narative and history. There is layering, an abundance of different clays, textures, colours. It is fast becoming the most pleasurable activity. And these are my children:

Both (above) works in progress. Ceramic and mixed media.

“[James Johnson Sweeney’s] symbolic reading of Burri stresses this corporeal aspect strongly: “Burri transforms rags into a metaphor for bleeding human flesh; breathes fresh life into the inanimate materials which he employs, making them live and bleed; then heals the wounds with the same evocative ability and the same sensibility with which he first inflicted them.” Sweeney, Burri, 5-6

I couldn’t be more honest when I tell people that I’m just ‘taking it out on the clay’. The clay is my absolute refuge at the moment. I am escaping to it, talking to it, cuddling it, stroking it, smashing it, piecing it into something new and all the time there is promise. Promise of something good coming out of it. Of the pain being cathartic – necessary in order to symbolise the awakening of those who are sleeping through this life in a bubble; removed from external realities and won over by lies and false platitudes. I am lost. Bewildered. Where is common humanity? Where are the peacemakers? They are in there and all around us but I NEED to see them, more and more, setting their goals for unity, for collaboration, for collective acts of random and organised kindness. In the meantime I will continue to make my own ‘beauty’ from extreme destruction. I accidentally cut myself three times making the last piece pictured above. There was nothing cathartic in that: it just hurt. But today I wandered whether it was the sculpture biting me back!

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