Monthly Archives: May 2013

Jeremy White – Ceramics

I hate clutter, but my life is lived in a permanent state of clutter and untidiness from which my studio does not escape.   I try to keep it habitable, but somehow I seem to work better in chaos, although I take care to ensure that the finished piece of work is not sloppy.   My Studio is a small space (a Summerhouse in any other life) in the garden.   I look out onto trees and plants and I know that behind me is a stream, meadow, canal, fields and the Chilterns.   All of these feed my imagination and Creativity.

Inspiration is the nub of an idea, either a photograph, or preferably a landscape view ‘en plein air’, which will later germinate into a physical creation.  I also ‘need’ to work, either to tease out a pot from a vague idea.  The need to produce in a physical, tangible form, an idea which is rolling around in my mind sustains me as an artist and the need to make a living drives me, they feed off each other.  If it wasn’t in clay, it would need to be by some other process.  When  I need to develop new work,  I don’t often sit down and think “lets have a new idea”.   It is a process of osmosis where one piece or style of work leads onto or suggests a development to another stage.

Once I have an idea, I will sometimes make very rough  (and very poor) sketches, usually on scraps of paper which I later have to rescue from the recycle bin.  When working on the wheel new shapes, will develop from others, often by accident!  If I have a lull in the flow of new ideas.  I find going back to basics; either throwing 100 mugs, or simple hand building, usually stimulates the grey cells into doing something different!

 

I have always had creativity inside me, but it only blossomed into a concrete form around the age of 25.   I had wanted to be an actor.   At School I got 5% in Mock Science O Level and refused point blank to take the proper exam, and bugged everyone until I was allowed to do Art O level (for which I received my best marks).   Later Ceramics came into my life almost by accident, but I was hooked.   I built, literally, my first studio and immersed myself in making and selling Pots. I also returned to teaching, Ceramics, this time rather than English and Drama. After a period when I was teaching full time, my own creativity stopped and I had a need to do something completely different.   Many years later the call of the clay could no longer be resisted and I returned to full time Potting.  Now it informs my life!  It’s a visual response, by looking at everything from a different point of view, seeing ‘a pot’, potentially in every view or landscape.

 

With regard to commissions, I don’t really like them, unless the brief is VERY open.  When some one has said’ make me one like that’, they usually end up saying, ‘but its not same colour’ or ‘the shape is different’ as if the pieces were made on a production line and from moulds.  If I make thrown domestic ware then the work is repeatable, but less satisfying to do.   The open brief can be quite satisfying, but if the commission is not something that I enjoy doing then I am afraid that it takes a back seat in my list of priorities.

I don’t really enjoy the process of selling or marketing my own work.  ‘Artist and Makers’ Fairs, ( I don’t like the “Craft Market” scenario as it rather gets mixed up with knitted tea cosies and stuff my Mother used to make for Church Bazaars, which I hasten to add have their place in the order of things!), are my main source of direct outlet.   I take part in our County Open Studios fortnight, which I find interesting and rewarding.   I am delighted if Galleries are interested in taking/buying my work, although I dislike the process of having to present myself and my work for scrutiny.  If money were no object then I would play around with ideas more than I am able to do now, experiment and ‘play’ with different techniques.   I have a website, which I am very bad about keeping up to date, thankfully, my Webmaster is good at nagging me.   I don’t do twitter or Facebook.    Fortunately there will always be people who want to buy hand crafted work, and will pay for it, preferring that to the mass produced and significantly cheaper, items in various stores.   It is just a case of finding them!

 

Jenny Ayrton – Cast Glass

  Creating cast-glass is a fairly drawn-out process involving a number of stages. Initially I work with great attention to detail, however with the introduction of molten glass each piece takes on a life of its own, and often I have no idea what I have created until I open the kiln days later. It is this anticipation that drives me on to want to make more.

Sometimes one opens the kiln to find an unexpected success, more frequently things haven’t worked how I would like; depending on the deadline that I’m working towards I often feel more excited when it is the latter, if everything goes exactly as I expect then I quickly find myself getting bored.   I love problem-solving  and I think that it’s this that keeps my work evolving.  By the time I’m half-way into one mould I’ve usually identified an alternative way to make the next.

It’s so exciting when a new idea strikes. I begin with a rough sketch, I then spend ages puzzling over how best to approach it technically, and the finished piece evolves from there. I’m rather stubborn so if someone says that an idea can’t be achieved, or suggests a simpler but less effective approach, then I’m determined to do it my way!    When I reach a technical dead-end though, I find my dad incredibly helpful. He comes from a more scientific background (though he’s also very creative), and when talking through a project over a couple of beers he’ll often ask just the right question, or suggest an unusual solution. 

I recently came across a box full of my sketchbooks from the last 13  years, it was amazing flicking through to see doodles of uncompleted ideas. Having recently finished a foundation degree in applied arts many of these may take on a new life as I can imagine their potential in materials that I previously hadn’t considered. Over the last couple of years my work has taken a very noticeable turn towards a domestic theme, prior to that it was nautically inspired, I have no idea what it will be next!   The rest of my life certainly affects my art, so I suppose the opposite must be true. I like to think that I’m good at thinking of alternative solutions to life’s little problems, a similar approach to my mould making. 

Like so many artists I find getting out and about really helps when I’m low on ideas. I live in Devon so I’m very lucky to be surrounded by stunning moor, woods and coastline. I’ve also found that travelling by train is fascinating as it gives you an alternative perspective of towns and cities.

 I’ve always had a creative streak, from finger painting as a toddler, to collecting shells on the beach. As a teenager I found textiles excited me more than art lessons at school. When I was 18 I was split between a love of the sea, and a desire to be creative. After a few years afloat it was time for a change so I signed up for a course at Plymouth College of Art, and I haven’t looked back since!    I’ve also recently become a mum for the first time, whilst this has severely restricted my glass-casting time my daughter happily models a number of mummy-knitted outfits, and we’re having great fun getting messy with paint!

 

I am neither comfortable nor confident when marketing my work. For one thing I get very attached to each piece, though with some projects it’s very much a love-hate relationship. Initially it felt like I was selling a little bit of me, however I’m getting better at handing work over, and instead I see it as an opportunity to start on another piece.  At college we were told that to be a professional it’s vital to designate a substantial part of time each week to the business side of things, but somehow the hoovering and washing-up always seem more inviting!   

 
Last year I designed and made the trophies for the Association of Colleges Gold Awards which were presented at the House of Commons. In some ways it was a great experience, but the words ‘blood, sweat and tears’ would not be an understatement!  I would think twice before agreeing to make so many almost identical pieces on such a tight budget and deadline, however it would be lovely to work with customers to create individual pieces with personal meaning.

The introduction of new technologies in art interests me.   I’m not sure whether it will directly influence my work as I still really enjoy getting messy, but there are certainly some very exciting things happening in the glass-art
world.

I would love a bigger workshop with state of the art cold-working facilities, however I have recently started to rent time in the workshop at Teign Valley Glass, and it’s made me realise that having my own workshop could get rather lonely… so totally blowing the budget I think a fully equipped multi-purpose workshop to share with all my artistic friends!

Casting is quite a messy process however it helps to keep things fairly tidy and to clean up as you work (though my husband would tell you my workshop is a tip, I know where everything is!). Much of the equipment I use can be found in a standard kitchen (though not in ours as it tends to migrate to the garage never to be seen again!). So long as I’m inspired and there’s something good on the radio I’m quite happy, I’ve even been known to break the ice on the outside sink to rinse out my plaster bucket!