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Exhibition day

Waking up in a beautiful house in Yorkshire today and sitting in the sunshine in the garden, I am left reflecting on my MA ending. I found this house on AirBnB (another tool of the 21st century which allows us into each others lives, into shared living spaces, into worlds we need to learn about). Everything seems to be about connection now. How I connect with the world and how I interact with it. What good can I do? Because making art is, for me, primarily, a selfish act. One that makes *me* happy. One that gives me comfort and an outlet for all those emotions that I don’t even recognise, perhaps those that only work sub consciously, even unconsciously. Everything is brought to the surface in making Art. Not necessarily immediately. Sometimes years later I’ll see, finally SEE what was going on: what I needed to process. The collaborations really make me feel that I connect with others -in a real way – and can give something to the wider world, beyond finished artwork.

So, tonight is the presentation of this work to the world – at least the actual ‘real life’ version, at Barnsley Civic Centre. The MA is complete. It has been one hell of a journey. Hard. Hilarious. Fun. Frustrating. Challenging. Ultimately so richly rewarding.  And my cohort: just fabulous! I have been so lucky. They have supported me through plenty of crazy times. Today is a celebration of those connections: of the comradeship and the scaffolding we provided for each other. For every silent crit, every lecture, every asynchronous seminar, every making day, every presentation and debate: THANK YOU. I have learnt so much from every one of you. 

Now let’s get out there and have solo shows at the Tate and the Serpentine! 


This is what I did

If you want a little peek into the process:

There was a lot of physical interaction with the processes, including using a fair few good hammers, and my fists clenched. Having said that, all of the aggression was directed at the clay/ceramic, and the remnants were all used, reincarnated. I was asked by course leader Caroling Wright, whether I would consider my relationship with the work to incorporate a type of ‘loving aggression’, questioning whether such a relationship was possible. I pondered for some time on this. The evidence is there in this video. I am both embracing and holding the work to me as a baby, and smashing it as an enemy. Thank goodness there are BEAUTIFUL and creative ways to explore our human emotions. I wonder whether it is the ultimate in healing activities. I would endorse it to anyone who is in need of an outlet. And I thank the policies of the Conservative party, Donald Trump, terrorism, war, abuses of all kinds, and lack of care for those most vulnerable in the world, for fueling this year’s work!

In fact, only about 50% of the work created has been exhibited. That is the reality of a group show, a limited exhibition space, and being over enthusiastic about making!

Here is a peek at the show:





And so lovely to finally meet the rest of the cohort… these guys! x





New me?

So, my new website is up and running. I have moved the domain server, and other impossibly techie tasks, in order to keep my presence as I have however also simplified everything hugely. The website is stripped right back. No longer a catalogue of everything I have ever done alone or in collaboration…..

This website identifies what my current interests are and gives a taster of the work I am producing.

I am paying for the site so there is no advertising in it, as there was with my previous website. I am excited to show this to people and have confidence in the work.

Sometimes you win….

In levering myself into being seen by the industry that is the Art World, I have been seeking opportunities to exhibit via open calls. I have had a little success in this recently and have a few possibilities in the pipeline. Currently my work is going to feature in the April edition of Average Art Magazine, a monthly alternative art magazine aimed at getting emerging artists under the nose of collectors and industry. One of my sculptures will also be promoted in August as part of the Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize 2017
In addition to this I have entered work in a series of other open exhibitions and have been suggested contacts by my mentor Freddie Robins. There is a sense that it would be a real mistake not to springboard off the MA and into other exhibiting opportunities. I’m immensely lucky to be doing the course I am studying and to be working in ways that I am finding so fulfilling. I recognise that the hours I have spent doing this work can be used effectively in the future; making good contacts and seeking out places for my sculptures to be seen.

The future is going to be full of risks and possibilities. It takes guts to offer your work to someone else to put value on. It is important to accept this as just someone else’s opinion and that neither mine not theirs is necessarily correct. I’m feeling so fond of my current work that I can genuinely take a deep breath and put it out there. I no longer need the safety net of an exhibition close to home or near a fan base. In fact, the more I think of it, the greater the pleasure in finding that audience purely because they think my work is exciting. I have exhibited multiple times in various places. I have work in different parts of the world. But this, this is like jumping in the deep end of the pool. Will my feet touch the floor? Will I hold my breath for long enough? 

Let’s hope so! 

Experiment, g’wan, TRY!

The piece above contains two elements created two years apart. As I was digging around in the kiln room these two pieces just seemed to want to connect. I placed them together and decided that they would indeed collaborate in existence. The loud face screaming into the small profile of a face along the edge of the pancake-like blanket of buff clay, moved me; it spoke to me about politics and about desire to shut down; to close our ears to the madness and the shouting and the lies. The piece has the title ‘Shut Yer Face’.

I have just been informed that one of my ceramic works is going to be highlighted on the 2017 Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize page in August. I am delighted to know that I will be getting this audience for my work, and have plans to expand further throughout spring and summer.

Building work directly into the kiln is something which I will be able to experiment with over the next month with the kiln almost exclusively at my disposal. The movement of work within the kiln once it reaches temperature is incredibly exciting. It is always full of risk.

Developing work with oxides has also been something I had wanted to explore. The surfaces are still experimental and the nails pushed into the clay add another layer of uncertainty in terms of what one expects to see when the work is returned. I also mixed (why use the instructions when you can wing it?) some powdered opaque glaze and drizzled it over some of the surface of the sculpture. Again, I did not know what effect this would have in combination with the oxides. The resulting work is largely brown and black and it has the presence of some kind of iron bird taking flight.

I have recently commissioned a carpenter to make some bespoke plinths for my ceramic work – hopefully this will make thoughtful supports for sculptures whilst also leaning towards their sense of being up-cycled, reused; and having the illusion of looking, themselves, vulnerable.

The following are notes I made for the written part of the MA course. They bring together some of the ideas I have been exploring over the last year; including artists who I am inspired by. There is order and disorder in the notes, reflecting the very nature of my materials and spontaneous style.

Weaving meaning.

Tomorrow I will be working inside the kiln. I won’t physically be inside the kiln but my sculpture will and I will be precariously balancing further work onto it. That is as far as I have planned. A cushion to kneel on and I’ll be set!

One element supports the next. Gravity, heat, the melting point of the glaze; all of these factors contribute to pulling the work together or, potentially, pulling it apart.

I am enjoying the freedom that comes from the absence of a plan. This freedom is slightly impinged upon by this bothersome upcoming exhibition, but the work will produce itself. If there is no end point I can basically continue to work until the van needs filling; even if this is filling the van with two sacks of rubble after a spectacular explosion! 

I am currently smashing up all sorts of ceramics. This includes pieces I am drawn to in charity shops and pieces I can let go of. I am constantly searching for the next way to damage old work to add breath to it; a ceramic CPR. Filling the work with fresh intensity can also be an ugly event which is another element I am embracing.

It is important to me not to keep anything for the sake of materialism, or because it appeals to me purely aesthetically. I need to feel something real and gutteral. I want to be submerged into a new, intense, complicated world. I want to be weaving meaning instinctively and approaching the design spontaneously. 

The piece above is actually constructed from three works including the piece below. 

Letting go of work is therapeutic in itself. I really need this in my life right now.

I’d like an explanation, please

Last week I went for my third appointment at the doctor after two sets of blood tests. When I arrived back home and sat in the car for a moment, I looked towards my front door and stopped still for some time, feeling the colour draining from my face. Alongside the door sits a plaster sculpture I made about 5 years ago. I have been allowing her to be weathered and have been enjoying the changes to her ‘skin’ surface. But what rather took me by surprise was the lump in her neck. One that I carved carefully, and then forgot about. Five years before a lump appeared on my neck in *exactly* the same position. 

I’m all for coincidence. But it slightly freaked me out! Perhaps there is an easy obvious explanation? Meanwhile, I wait for my mouth to fall off and grass to grow out of my bra!