The first stage of foundation has been a busy time and I have learned a lot.
In the early stages I began by sketching, photographing and observing the character of Stamford through regular trips into the town to gather observational explorations. Through this process I devised my concept: an investigation into the role of alcohol in society. My aim was to communicate the wild behaviour and surreal scenes that unfold on an alcohol fuelled evening in towns such as Stamford.
Initially I was a little stumped by the idea of keeping as a journal as I usually tend to do a lot of planning, problem solving and reflection in my head. However once I got to grips with viewing it as a place to reflect and record ideas and how to progress I found it a much easier task to keep up with.
Working a in a busy studio filled with people means there is always someone to ask for advice or an opinion on your work which has been invaluable. Regular feedback from peers and tutors helped me to identify sketchbook weaknesses, and group critiques were really useful for getting inspiration from others and building knowledge, for example how to improve my poster design. While working on my pots regular discussions with people who have ceramic experience helped me to realise my ideas practically.
A huge influence on my project has been the ceramic work of Grayson Perry. I used the college library art and design section to locate a book of his work. At the same time I also found books on photography, comic book art and ceramic techniques which were really useful and influenced the development of my concept. The book “How We Are: Photographing Britain” by Val Williams and Susan Bright which featured the work of Homer Sykes and Martin Parr. I also researched into Maciej Dakowicz and Lee Jones who both photograph the drunken antics on the streets of Britain, which influenced my own photography experiments.
I have enjoyed all the workshops and look forward to exploring new methods of making in the future.
Pinterest was a valuable tool for exploring the possibilities of techniques learned in workshops, for example the relief collagraph technique, which produced great results and I pursued to create a final piece.
The colour theory knowledge I gained will be transferrable to all types of projects, in this instance it was useful in devising my colour palette for my marbling and pots.
Unfortunately my final pieces aren’t complete due to time constraints and damage from firing. I realise now that I should have begun my ceramic explorations sooner and had more confidence to begin making as soon as I had the idea.
There have been problems along the way but I have adapted my plans and I was always aware that ceramic is a risky and temperamental medium. I tried to explore several different ways of making and decorating along with regular discussions with tutors and experts such as Rob Bibby to aid problem solving I have built a good foundation of knowledge and skills, including how to set the kiln and awareness of health and safety precautions surrounding use of all related materials.
I also solved the problem of poor location photo results by switching to a disposable camera.
Although it’s difficult to properly assess the outcomes as they’re still not finished I can reflect on how they look so far. They are not as ‘professional’ looking as I’d hoped due to my lack of experience. Due to the breakages during firing I may have to use acrylic or oxides rather than glaze to decorate the head and morning after pots. I hope to still be able to use glazes on the spittoon. The white slip finish on the head pot works well, and I’m glad I took the time to sculpt the features more accurately, I feel I achieved a realistic expression. I was pleased to have discovered the tracing paper technique for the spittoon as my illustrations turned out exactly as I’d hoped and it was great to be able to transfer them perfectly onto the pot. These illustrations were, to me, a really important part of communicating my message and I believe encapsulate the familiar sights if a night out, confirmed by peers commenting when they saw it. I hope that as the decorative aspects progress on the other pieces the message will be similarly clear.
If I were to approach this project again I would photograph more and begin ceramic technique exploration earlier. I would take more time to explore abstract expressive work in painting and drawing. I would consider making more, smaller sculptures in order to explore a wider variety of techniques and portray a broader experience.
The main thing I have learned is to be more realistic with time planning. I could improve by setting out clear, structured, prioritised lists and deciding what I want to achieve that day otherwise a to do list can be overwhelming. In terms of my own practice, that staying busy and experimenting is the best way to find ideas. I realise I tend to do a lot of planning and am hesitant to try things out, but that the part I enjoy most is making. That influences and inspiration are everywhere, from books to films to research articles and overheard conversations. Importantly, that my attitude towards art and the way I interpret the world compared to a few years ago has matured and I am more motivated to create now.
Whilst going through the process of applying for university I have been forced to consider what kind of work I aim to produce and why. I have realised that I hope to work within the creative arts but not exclusively within the art world. I hope to work in a way that helps people, by engaging with communities and raising awareness. Through open days and peer discussions I have a good understanding of what’s expected of a portfolio. I need to check the specific requirements for my course selections, but I feel happy that I have a broad range of work to display that I can discuss confidently.