13 September - 3 October 2007
Into the Fiery Dark with the Arts Council
Earlier this year I applied for an Arts Council England (ACE) grant to enable me to make the most of an exhibition opportunity at the Hart Gallery in London this September. This will be my first solo ceramics show and I wanted to put together a small catalogue and also fund some studio time to help me focus on a new body of work.
Writing proposals and getting the application together was far more time consuming than I had imagined. I learned a lot about the process by going to an ACE seminar, also my local Arts Officer was really helpful. Equally useful was the practical help offered by another artist who had recently won an award - doing 'show and tell' with your successful application forms is a great way of sharing good practice. So, I was delighted to find that I was eventually successful, especially as the ACE funds have been hit so badly recently and competition for grants is even keener than ever.
The main plank of my ACE proposal was to buy research and development time to refine the work further down to its essence - difficult to do with teaching and commercial pressures - the award bought off some teaching time and allowed me to be far more experimental and take risks that I might not otherwise have taken.
So into the studio... I have been making vessels and sculptural pieces and wanted to work on refining and reducing the forms to the essential. The work connects to the female body but I wanted to allude to rather than describe the torso and have worked in a reductive way to remove the obvious and make work that is subtle nearly minimal. As the work has developed it has become thinner in profile and seems to be moving away from its base, defying gravity. I have also worked on my firing technique, still using saggar firing but reducing slightly at the end of the firing to obtain more pinks from the copper carbonate.
Although my technique is now quite sophisticated I still have losses. Hand-building with pure porcelain is risky as the possibility of stress cracking is ever present and the work must be carefully attended to. Making and firing is labour intensive and unpredictable but I am prepared to take risks in order to have 'hard won' success in fewer pieces.
The work is made, photographed and the catalogue for the show printed. The show opens on the 13th September, at the Hart Gallery, 113 Upper Street, Islington, running until the 3rd October. I look forward to seeing the work in the calm, light space of the gallery and hope that the pieces will evoke an atmosphere of still contemplation.