Process and Technique
There’s quite a few stages in order to produce these weird looking artworks. If you want to know how I made them, read on.
The ceramic sculptures are mostly made from stoneware clay and are coloured with either mixed glazes from my recipe book, or brilliant bright acrylic paints. The forms are then either varnished, or glazed and fired again. All the sculptures are inspired by the forms of different decaying fruits: kiwis, pomegranates, oranges and ginger. My process begins by hand building the original sculpture from clay, using coiling techniques. I carve and scratch into the clay, intuitively and instinctively using my skills to work with the material to produce some of these quirky designs.
The process consists of a number of elements. Firstly the form needs building and this is done by a combination of moulding, hand-building and coiling. The piece is built and is carefully smoothed in parts, then bisque fired before sometimes being painted with many layers of acrylic paint, and a top layer of varnish. The process is long and meditative and results in fine artwork that is truly unique.
So, some of the sculptures you see are painted after they have been bisque fired. I always start with black because this gives a kind of depth and richness that I have been unable to get without using it. Then comes whichever colour I choose to put on next. I like to keep things pretty vibrant – so reds, yellows, greens and blues have all been used so far.
You can see how colour completely changes the look of the piece. And I would normally use about 5 different colours on each sculpture. With all the vibrant colours going on, I try to keep one consistent and neutral and this is often fleshy coloured.
After all that, there are still a number of elements which go into making the finished piece. And they start as soon as the last layer of paint has dried. I use a combination of sandpaper and scouring pads with bleach and white spirit to breakthrough to some of the layers beneath then scratch more off using a carving knife to add shape and form to the surface.
Once that’s done all over, I’ll either add inks if I think it needs more depth, or I will just add varnish to create a shiny surface all over. This also helps to hold all the layers of paint together and to prevent them from disintegrating off the sculpture.
I like to think that the peeling and flaking of some of the clay surfaces enable you to see through to a different layer below, very much like layers of skin. Following the path of working with such bizarre forms, it made sense to work with unusual ways of colouring. Acrylic paint is not normally used on top of bisque fired ceramics, let alone manipulated in this charred, scarred way. With experimenting by introducing foreign material like flour, bleach and white spirit into the acrylic paint, I was aiming to mimic the corrosive effect of mould and decay eating away at a fruit, causing lumps, bumps and unusual textural features: contrasting rough and smooth elements, blisters and crevices. The challenge was to try to control these effects in a consistent way, although I thoroughly enjoyed the risks involved in pushing the material to its limits.
If you want to know more, you can find my art on Etsy.