It's been a while since my last blog post, but I'm pleased to report that my materials have all arrived at North Herts College. Now I can relish the challenge of transforming the generic blocks of clay into those ideas in my head.
My project is concerned with the forces of nature, and using this power to transform the ceramic surface. In particular, I'm excited to be working with watery forces, harnessing the power of the waves to change the surface of my pottery.
These bottles were thrown on a pottery wheel and made from a variety of clays. Lentils and rice have been pressed into the finished pot, here made from industrial crank clay - a very coarse material. Sitting there so patiently, they look like a little regimented army of bottles, waiting for their orders!
I'm exploring different textured surfaces and materials to see how these can be altered underwater. Once this pottery has been fired to a low temperature, these pots will be secured in a beach location. This tidal action *should* then begin to smooth the ceramic surface. Firing to a lower temperature means that the bonds of clay at a molecular level should be weaker, encouraging erosion.
It is important to work with a textured surface, to highlight the action of the sea smoothing the surface. If this were left smooth, it would not be obvious whether any hydrological action had taken place.
I've made holes in the neck of each bottle, partly to help with securing them in their marine location (attached to piers, groynes, etc), and also this will play a part in how they will be displayed in a final exhibition.
I love working with this crank clay. The coarse particles seem to give the piece character, and I can't wait to see how this surface behaves underwater. It's pretty hard on the hands though!
I have always been captivated by the ever-changing nature of the sea, especially those strange, reinvented objects one finds scattered along the tide line that Nature has handed back to us.
Just like the gnarled piece of driftwood, or smoothed bead of sea glass, I am in awe of the journey that these objects have taken and the mysterious underwater forces that have acted on them.
These unfamiliar fragments have been decoupled from their intended context, washed clean of their original significance to be deposited, handed back to us as detritus, tell tale fragments of our daily lives.
The power of the tides, a force that will continue long after we have gone is an age old rhythm, governed by the gravitational forces of our own solar system. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have our insignificant items that are lost to the sea, to be transported, changed and deposited, never to speak of their violent journey beneath the waves, which are no more than tattered signifiers of a previous life on land.
It is this age old natural process that I will be experimenting with in my residency at North Hertfordshire College. By securing ceramic objects in the cosastal zone to experience the humbling force of the ever changing tides, they will draw attention to our own insignificance as a race when faced with such power. It is those remnants that lie transformed, littered along the shoreline that I take inspiration from.
Objects will be made from a variety of clays with contrasting textures and shapes – some forms functional, others more abstract.
I keep returning to the following quote by Heraclitus which seems to stand at the heart of this work:
‘Everything flows and nothing abides, everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.’