Big Head News

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.

Scottish Rogues Review

On Friday 8th August, my Rogues went on display at The Sri Chinmoy Centre Gallery in Edinburgh (details here). It turned out to be a great event. My gratitude goes to Alan Spence who did a wonderful job of overseeing the programme and Mio Shapley who played the koto and sang beautifully. Here are some photos of the evening.


Big Rogues, big questions.


I have just finished modelling the larger heads that I hope will be ready in time for my MA show at Bath Spa Uni. Initially, I found it a real challenge to translate the flat imagery of my iPad drawings into three dimensions. Now with the increase in scale, I am finding new challenges as decoration, marks and features that look good on a small piece do not necessarily transfer successfully to larger ones.

I have also been thinking about surface, and wondering how smooth I can go. Part of me would like to attempt the level of finish in an Eva Hild or Nicholas Rena piece. Yet I realise that their surfaces are made up of larger planes that can be tooled successfully post firing. This is an area I am certainly interested in, though I have made it a bit tricky with the addition of facial features on my work. I even considered using the clay as a skeleton, and cover the inevitable (?) post-firing undulations with automotive filler, before painting or gilding. However, it might be a shame to obliterate all signs of clay-ness.

I realise that I am rushing to finish these pieces, and if they were dried more slowly, their surface might warp less. I also guess that if I made them in a mould, that might help too. Maybe that is something for the future. I am using a very coarse crank clay, so I hope that will stay in place as much as possible and survive a speedy drying process.

On the question of scale, I have always been opposed to larger-than-life figurative works. I find them domineering and, as a viewer generally feel uncomfortable. Usually, political, religious or nationalistic agendas lie behind their size which makes it hard for me to see them on purely artistic merit. As my rogues are flawed and vulnerable characters, I am more than happy to make them larger-than-life, and celebrate their other-ness.