Talk Talk

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.


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.