Pottery works (2018)
My main topic being on wildlife sustainability, I decided to find new mediums that strive towards environmentally friendly artworks. Wanting to learn a new form of art and for the above stated reasons I started to read a book titled, ‘Sustainable Ceramics’ by Robert Harrison. In this book he speaks of going ‘green’ and using energy saving techniques and fuel alternatives among other environmentally friendly techniques.
The other books that sparked my interest in ceramic art were, ‘Çeramic Ecology’ by Charles C. Kolb and ‘Ceramics in the Environment’ by Janet Mansfield. The book Ceramic ecology was a lot harder to grasp initially but I found its core lay in the adaptation that archaeological ceramics were designed from the environment to determine their physical features. Human behaviour and the physical environment is what was used to create ceramics as stated in the book. Ceramics in the environment was a book that spoke of ceramic artists worldwide who made artworks in regard to the particular space allotted to them. It speaks of the use of ceramics in the environment.
Having read books on ceramics, I started to research on ceramic artists worldwide.
I took inspiration from Patricia Griffin who crafts ceramics for beauty and daily use function. She uses her natural surroundings to create her pieces.
Maham Anjum is another potter whose works I found appealing. She uses a range of colours and all her works are for functional qualities, for example cooking, eating etc.
Michelle Freemantle is another potter who likes to create objects that are user friendly. She hand builds and presses mould’s into clay to create functional ware that also acts as art pieces.
Over the summer, I interned with a potter and created artworks that could be functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. My pottery works were sustainable and environmentally friendly. Taking inspiration from around my own environment, I decided to create works such as pencil stands, snack bowls, plates and mugs which can be used daily. I then took inspiration from all of the above and chose prints, colours and patterns that were found in nature. Whether it’s the shape of a leaf from my garden or press moulds from old dried tree barks, all of these helped me create my artworks. Glazing was another process I leant and found fascinating. I used environmental colours and shades of green and brown I had in my own garden.
Method and Interpretation:
As mentioned above, my initial idea for ceramic work was seeded due to my desire to learn a new environmentally friendly craft and the book on sustainable ceramics was just the right starting point for me. I started off by learning simple coil techniques of which I made tiny bowls and leave like containers. Post, I glazed them using environmental shades of green and brown.
A leaf shaped bowl
Post this, I made a series of plates with embedded designs on them. At this point, havingread about other potters and being inspired by their works, I decided to create daily use artworks which were inspired by my surrounding environment. I created a series of plates with embedded flower patterns on them and took inspiration from Michelle Freemantle’s works with press moulds.
Being more comfortable with the basic techniques of ceramics, I decided to make some cylinders with the potters wheel. Post the throw wheel technique, I then used a dried tree bark from my garden on the outside to give it a textural element which I also used for the leaf life structures that could be used as containers whether for stationary or food.
Initial stages of pottery works was exciting as I learnt techniques of clearing air pockets with clay to prevent it from bursting in the kiln and different techniques of imbedding, coiling etc. I moved onto glazing which was a new exciting technique for me. I had to thoroughly mix the glazes I picked, then apply them very carefully onto my objects and wait for them to dry. I decided to try out a few glazes beforehand to see how the end product post firing would look and this helped me pick my colours. These glazes were led free and hence suitable for storing food as well. Post which I learnt how to stack works into a kiln for firing. I wanted environmental colours in my pottery works and therefore chose tones of green and brown. Robert Harrison taught me innumerable lessons on how to recycle the clay I used, save water etc, all of which I strived to do during the makings of my pottery works.
My idea behind these works were more material based. The fact that we can be environmental responsible artists, not just with our subject matters but material use as well. Having used fibre glass without a second thought for my sculptures, this is the right step in the right direction. Energy saving techniques, recycling waste products and saving water are some of the methods adopted for environmentally friendly artworks. ‘Going green’ as Robert Harrison states in his books has never seemed more relevant in todays plastic planet.