I have just started an Instagram account with the name vilas.silverton.
In this way, i hope to share more ‘progress’ photos and spontaneous images that don’t need a blog entry.
Here are some images of the coffin I decorated as mentioned in an earlier post.
I was asked to make it simple, natural and beautiful, to go with a cardboard coffin that had been selected a long time ago. I hope I fulfilled my brief.
The good people at Coffee No.1 seemed pleased with my efforts and replaced the plain cup with my angel. If you are in the vicinity of Gloucester Road, Bishopston, Bristol, UK, do have a look (and maybe a coffee as well).
Coffee No.1 have a website here.
For the last couple of days I have been decorating my friends coffin, and thinking about little else. Today I took a break and went to my local for a coffee with a pal. Inside the cafe, I was admiring how their small tree was decorated with take-away espresso cups hung from the branches. On top of the tree however, was just a bigger cardboard cup. I thought this looked a bit sad as I like to see angels on top of trees, or at least a star. So on the way out, I pinched a couple of cups and set about making my own tree-topper. I’ll take it in tomorrow and see if they would like to use it…
Someone I liked very much passed away the other day.
Although they had been ill for a while, the end was very quick. Before passing, they asked me to decorate their coffin, which they had already ordered and sorted out. Despite having constructed a number of memorial flower arrangements in unusual designs, I have never decorated a coffin before. I never realised how big they are for adults.
Before their passing, we spoke about how they would like it decorated, and the key elements were beauty and simplicity. No fancy words or photos. Nothing that would be too ornate or flashy. I showed them an image of a decorated coffin I liked, but was told that it looked like a comfy mattress, so that was out. I also ruled out the ‘wrap’ designs that make a coffin look like a pastoral scene or something that it is not.
Now I have a few days to do my best, and just hope they will approve.
This week I was invited back to Bath Spa University to give an afternoon presentation about my work to the new MA students and also to demonstrate how I make things.
I used the above image to start my Powerpoint presentation, as I always like to have something to look at while I wait for other’s talks to begin. The plan was to keep the talk quite short (20 minutes or so), and use the remaining time for making.
It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed describing how my zen rogue drawings (such as the one above) developed and then how I struggled to translate them into three dimensions.
I took care to document and show my explorations, possibilities and failures, together with the final ‘finished’ pieces.It is easy to find professional photos of artists’ work on the internet these days, so I wanted to highlight the other areas of the making process that don’t often get shown.
This point was made apparent to me not long ago when I attended a presentation by Philip Eglin at the Royal College of Art, London. He showed us pictures of his studio in various states of tidiness/chaos and also images of work that I have never seen published. This was a huge inspiration to me.
Due to the pressure of time, my hand building demonstration was pretty fast, but this was good as I enjoy working quickly where possible. In this session, I turned out a quick press mould that I used this year for my small heads. Then I made a few pieces from leather hard slabs I had prepared the day before. This was exciting for me, as I haven’t used slabs for a year or so, and I can really see this technique offering a way forward for my figurative pieces.
During the slab demo I found myself mentioning one of my past tutors, Mo Jupp whom I consider one of the most talented people ever to touch clay (within the range of my experience). I was reminded of him the other day when I came across this video on vimeo.
Hopefully I will get the opportunity to visit other places where people handle clay and show what this wonderful and versatile material is capable of.
With the end approaching of my MA course at Bath Spa University, I have been working quite hard to finish pieces for the show. Therefore it was with a mixture of delight and anxiety that I saw that the Tour of Britain Cycle race would be finishing in Bristol one day, and later starting off from Bath. I was excited because, as a keen cyclist, I enjoy watching the spectacle of live events like this, but I was also nervous about taking time away from the studio. In the end, I saw the race climb Bridge Valley Road in Bristol, just a couple of kilometres before the finish in Bristol and then later in the week I watched the race head off from Victoria Park in Bath, just a few minutes down the road from my University.
Watching the riders in Bristol was very special for me as I love training up Bridge Valley Road. As a 16 year-old rider I would do circuits up this hill with my Bristol Road Club club mates. We would absolutely tear up the hill, racing each other over the top. I knew if I could go flat out up the hill in a 42×17 gear, and recover by the time I reached Bristol Zoo, I would be race-ready. So it was a real thrill to watch the race pass by. The leaders were absolutely flying, others near the back were going more slowly and seemed glad to be near the finish. I was lucky enough to get a bidon from a Belkin rider who jettisoned his water bottle while passing me.
At Bath, I was able to watch riders arrive in their team buses and cars, ride to the signing on/presentation area and generally enjoy the carnival atmosphere. Groups of enthusiastic local school children lined the opening circuit which took in Bath’s famous Crescent, a row of magnificent houses arranged in a curve behind a cobbled road that overlooks Victoria Park. Within the park, it was fun to see the teams arrive and unload their bikes ready for the off. I do enjoy the beauty of the bicycle, with its simple elegance and colourful possibilities. Many fans (including myself) were busy photographing the bikes lined up for use and hoping to glimpse the riders before the day’s stage (Photo gallery to follow).
Here are a few photos of the big heads.
It is a big relief to have them survive their first firing. Especially as I dried them rather quickly due to time pressures. The crank body is quite forgiving though as it is so groggy. I am very grateful for that!
I firstly applied some underglaze colour and engobes to the unfired heads before bisque firing to 1000 degrees centigrade.
Although the clay is designed for stoneware firings, I am not intending to take it up to complete vitrification. I am using it for its structural qualities and colour response. Hence I fired it quite low as I wanted to work on the surface with abrasives to smooth out surface blemishes. This is a lot easier if the ceramic body isn’t too hard. Later I may go up to about 1100 degrees but this is purely for colour and to make sure the engobes that I am using are totally fired onto the piece.
I went to Iceland recently to visit friends and touch up a mural I painted in 2009. It was a strange experience going over work from that long ago. It almost felt like someone else’s picture as I have been quite focused on my rogues and their development of late.
I was, and still am happy with the painting though. It had survived quite well the strong sunlight and abrasive winds, but not so the dampness on a lower wooden section, where some paint had peeled away.
Here are some photos of how it looks now.
If you are looking for a nice vegetarian lunch, soup or snack in Reykjavik, you could do a lot worse than visit Ecstasy’s Heart Garden, Klapparsig 37, 101 Rvk. Tel: +354 56 12345. They have a website here.