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Jane Yarnall

I’m Jane Yarnall, a ceramic artist based in Bath, with a background in genetics and
organisational psychology. This eclectic mix has led to an interest in the movement from simplicity to complexity in many forms, which underpins my practice. I am fascinated by the formation of proteins and the fleeting patterns they create. Using ceramic extrusion, I explore how to bring their beauty and intrigue to life. During my time on the MA, my work was exhibited at the Holburne museum in Bath and I have since won a banner competition for the Craft Potters Association and been selected by the Crafts Council to be part of in their “Future Edit” exhibition.


Instagram: @janeyarnall


Artist Statement

The inspiration for this work comes from a fascination with the regular and irregular patterns created by protein structures.  The work explores the movement from the simplicity of a simple strand and sequence view of a protein to a complex 3D form, and how the positioning of the strands and helices is dictated by the individual connections and transition to the final complex structure.  My aim is to capture an essence of the scientific form: to find a way to fix the fleeting patterns, to highlight their irregular regularity, and to convey the intrigue of their inner spaces.  

My primary working method is ceramic extrusion, using both wall and hand-held extruders.  I design bespoke laser cut dies to extrude the clay through, before manipulating the extrusion in different ways to create a more complex form.  Cardboard tubes are used to support the helical forms. The clay is either stained or fired with a velvet engobe to reference the strong colour codes within science.


For the larger forms I have developed a unique method of construction, which entails assembling each component in a linear fashion before ‘folding’ the pieces together.  As with protein formation, until the long line of components is gathered together, there is no sense of how the final complexity will emerge.  By freeze-framing the 3D form in this way, the changing dimensionality can be explored, which can have tremendous value to scientists.


My MA project explores two specific protein forms, scaled up from the size of a blade of grass to that of the globe.  The first, PETase, is an enzyme recently discovered to break down plastic.   The second, 6IW3, is a signalling protein with central symmetry.  The angles and placement of the helices, strands and coils were determined using a molecular graphic software package (UCSF Chimera).

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