Friday, 30 December 2011

Big Bottoms!

As part of the one year Access course we spent one afternoon a week battling with the challenges of 'Life Drawing', often our results did not look very 'human'! However we were encouraged to experiment with our drawing styles and to try to 'free up' our approach to representing what we saw before us. At times I found this quite hard as I was used to trying to exactly represent what I saw and to be very precise in the way I drew or painted. I learnt a lot and I am sure that my skills improved as a result. During the course I started to create a human figure in clay, but ran out of time to complete it, so he was condemned to the re-cycling bin. The figure was due to be a 3-D representation of a painting which I saw and loved at the tender age of 18 on a visit to the Louvre, Paris; I still have the post-card, so have scanned in this image.
Jeune homme nu assis au bord de la mer - Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864)   

The time had come to try once again to use my life drawing skills to produce a figure in 3 dimensions using clay. I decided this time to model my figure on myself (hence the big bottom), many sketches that I had made and also the influence of the figures of Vanessa Pooley.

'Hippy' (~20cm)
 Pleased with this result, I decided that she needed a companion, once again a curled female form.

 I especially like the backbone which emerged as I was making this second lady!


I first used the heart shape within my ceramics in the creation of a heart-shaped vase. I made this in terracotta clay which was burnished when leather-hard; after biscuit firing I smoked the vase in burning sawdust, I completed the vase by polishing it with beeswax (along the same lines as the work of Magdalene Odundo which I have admired for several years).
Heart vase, burnished & smoked (~12cm)
I then started to make a series of hearts designed for hanging, which have proved to be very popular with my 'customers' (family and friends).

On a visit to RHS Wisley in Feb 2010 I enjoyed photographing the exotic butterflies in the Glasshouse, the image from one became the inspiration for decoration on some of my hearts.
I have also started making small heart-shaped bowls which include a small amount of 'sea-glass' in their centres; once again these have proved very popular and sell as fast as I can make them.

Heart bowls with 'sea-glass' (~7cm)
I also make small ceramic hearts which I combine with driftwood to make mobiles for the garden.
Driftwood, ceramic heart, wire and bead mobile
Encouraged by the popularity of both my ceramic and driftwood hearts, I decided to create hearts using different media and started making hearts from silver wire.
Wire and bead heart hanging (~40cm)

Thursday, 29 December 2011


In February 2009 I was lucky enough to make my 6th trip to New Zealand to visit our daughter, Katy, who was spending the 3rd year of her Geology degree studying at Wellington University. As well as being a brilliant holiday it provided me with a wealth of new inspiration for my ceramics, which unsurprisingly included the Koru.
When visiting Hokitika, on the West Coast of the South Island, I was almost drooling over the beautiful carved jade (greenstone) Koru's which were mounted on great pieces of New Zealand driftwood. Being unable to afford to buy one of these, I came home inspired to try to make my own version using clay and some of the driftwood collected on the beaches on the West Coast; I was pleased with the result.
In Wellington, many of the street bollards are in the shape of the Koru
which inspired me to make a large Koru for my garden
From the very large Koru, I then started making some small ones and mounting them on some silver birch.
Also during this New Zealand trip I saw a stone carving of two interconnecting Korus which formed a heart shape; I sketched this ready to use at a later date.
Using the sketch I started coiling two clay Korus which I cut away to join together to make this Double Koru.
Double Koru (25cm)
Here is the latest Koru which I have produced, no doubt there are more to come!
Koru with incised fern leaf (~30cm)

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


I love beach combing and have spent many a happy hour wandering along beaches with my head down and pockets bulging with the treasures I find. We spend our annual summer holiday very close to the beautiful Marloes Sands Beach in Pembrokeshire and I now know where the best collections of driftwood are to be found by scrambling over rocks at low tide. We always return with a new supply of driftwood. A few years ago I rediscovered the fun of using a penknife to whittle wood (as a child I regularly whittled arrows for games of 'cowboys and indians' with my older brother), I have since learned to be more creative and now whittle shells, dolphins and hearts, as well as more abstract shapes which are governed by the piece of driftwood.
I felt it was time to start using my driftwood within my artwork and started by producing a range of mobiles.
Driftwood and small ceramic hearts
Driftwood wind spiral with carved driftwood heart
 I also made a selection of mirrors with driftwood frames.

As well as making small ceramic hearts to use with my driftwood mobiles, I have also made small birds.
I have had a lot of fun carefully selecting and piecing together driftwood together to create hearts, here is a picture of the first of these.
Driftwood Heart (30x33cm)
The final images in this posting show some of my abstract pieces 'whittled' out of driftwood.
Carved spiral mounted on driftwood


I am trying to group together the many items of ceramics which I have been busy making over the past few years; so time now to gather together images of my assorted bowls.
Not surprisingly one of my first bowls was inspired by my love of spirals. 
Spiral bowl with 'sea glass' (~25cm diameter)
My interest in flowers inspired my next creation which started life from sketches of tulips, but became larger and more open as it was made and not really a tulip colour when glazed!
Tulip bowl (~20cm diameter)
I had great fun making this 'wavy-edge' bowl, which Ken so kindly called my 'ash-tray'
Another wavy bowl which also emerged out of a simple pinch-pot
I like starting with a lump of clay and pinching to make small bowls, here is one which I was particularly pleased with.
Off-set bowl with 'sea glass' (~13cm diameter)
My work is often inspired by the work of other artists; I have admired the beautiful pierced, porcelain bowls of the ceramicist Peter Lane, here is a small bowl inspired by his work (unfortunately not in porcelain).
Pierced bowl (~14cm diameter)
On visiting Art in Clay in Farnham in 2010 with a friend, I was inspired by the work of Ian Harris and experimented with creating a 'stepped-edge' to some bowls.
I love beach combing and often find pieces of 'sea glass', which are bits of broken glass which have been ground smooth by the sea and sand. I like adding these to my work, never quite knowing what colour and effect will be achieved. These bowls have 'sea glass' inside.

My friend admired a lovely blue plant pot, so I made her one that was similar.