‘Longère’ is a paper-clay piece I made while working towards the Mission Gallery Maker in Focus exhibition ‘After the Firing’, but I felt it didn’t fit within that body of work and so it wasn’t exhibited. ‘Longère’ was prompted by memories of holidaying in France in my in-laws home when my children were young.
The handprints reference several aspects of our time there – the girls playing, painting and making in my mother-in law Jean’s studio, the fact that all the family had a hand in renovating the house, our visits to caves filled with art and hand prints.
‘Longère’ alludes to memory, dream, a sense of place and space, and to the passage of time. I thought about calling the piece ‘Dream House’ but this has other connotations that are not so apt. So ‘Longère’ or ‘Long House’ with its connotations of time and longing (in punning English anyway!) perfectly sums up my feelings of nostalgia for both the place and that time in my life.
Thorn l and Thorn ll are some of the final pieces I made towards the Maker in Focus exhibition at Mission Gallery. They are something of a return to the tree motif I initially envisaged as the major element within this body of work, before the sea took over.
I used cuttings from the dying hawthorn hedge in my garden (courtesy of a neighbour spraying brambles on their side!) and pressed them into the clay slabs while the clay was still relatively soft.
The forms appear largely urban/industrial but were also influenced by a thorn bush I came across some years ago that had been sculpted by the wind, and perhaps sheep and deer, into an almost perfect cuboid – just a few stray twigs straggled out of one top corner.
The use of white paper clay alludes to the lichens I found on many of the wind blown trees around the coast as well as on the old oak trees in my local park, Parc Coed Bach.
My latest work is now on display in the Mission Gallery’s Maker in Focus space until 3 April. The gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am – 5pm. Some images of the work can be seen on the new portfolio page of my website. A big thank you to Amanda, Rhian and all at the Mission for all your help and advice.
This body of work was produced with the support of the Arts Council of Wales.
My exhibition for Maker in Focus at the Mission Gallery in Swansea is fast approaching and I’m running out of shelf space in my studio! I am having to do a number of firings in quick succession especially as I was held up earlier this week by Storm Imogen when the electricity kept cutting out.
I will be Maker in Focus from 23 February – 3 April.
While producing this work for Maker in Focus at the Mission Gallery in Swansea, I’ve used, it turns out, several different clay bodies – two different blacks, terracotta, white earthenware, at least one earthstone, and three different paperclays. I think the most enjoyable for the actual making have been the two clays in these pieces – the white form – ‘House of Leaves’ (at least it’s a working title but really how could I resist when the book is sitting in my studio!) is made with Earthstone and the dark form ‘Sea Change II’ is Vulcan Black. Both are beautiful to work with and not so heavily grogged that they rip my hands and nails to shreds as others have. Both these pieces though have other clays and materials incorporated in them.
In May I was thrilled to receive an Arts Council of Wales grant to buy a new kiln (following a firing catastrophe with my old one) and time to produce new work for my upcoming Maker in Focus exhibition in the Mission Gallery, Swansea from 23 February to 3 April 2016.
As soon as possible I went up to Stoke to get the new kiln, had it installed and had a few test firings before taking a much needed holiday. Since then I’ve had a few more firings – still getting to grips with the controller – but work is now in progress.