I have returned to ceramics, my first interest at art school, after a career as a scenic artist, working with theatre and opera companies around Britain. I have consolidated this with a BA Hons. in Ceramics at Plymouth College of Art, graduating in 2016, and now an MA in Ceramic Design at BathSpa University. My studio is on Dartmoor, near Widecombe in the Moor, where, as well as making, I run classes and workshops. I also teach in schools and colleges.
‘When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.’ John Muir
‘Earthfast: A ceramic study of landscape’
The landscape I’m concerned with is Dartmoor, granite is the source material. From my home I look daily at the upturned bowl shape of Rippon Tor; simple, clear, but changing with light and weather. It is the basic form for many of these pieces. The landscape is bold, harsh and pared back, high, windswept and wild; or calm and sheltered in the deep valleys. A communication of this richness is the intention of the work.
Using material from the land both holds and disperses my ideas in a simple bowl form: ‘the vessel as a signifier, a container of meaning and of ideas.’ Emmanuel Cooper.
Over millennia granite has washed off the Dartmoor batholith into the Sticklepath Fault, forming the Bovey Basin ball clays by a process of attrition and sedimentation. I use this clay as the main body, or carrier, for most of this work. It is fine and porcellanous, or rough and friable, depending on the layer it has been dug from in the quarry. I also use clays from deposits by streams and in depressions in the granite, variously stained by iron and containing particles of rocks and organic matter, washed down from the overburden of soil and peat. I gather raw materials carefully, taking only a little, avoiding deposits which may contain eggs or larvae, just as one picks wild flowers or berries, leaving a plant to be food and to seed, with apologies, acknowledging the life of the land, carrying on about its business.