Studio Notes - October

October was geared towards the making of paintings for the SW Grad Show at Exeter Phoenix that I will be a part of in November and December. I started to make these ‘window paintings’ - pieces that had raw canvas around the outside of the sewn, dyed elements.

The paintings were framed by a negative space and - although an experiment on the first piece made - I decided to stick with it so that the work flowed for the exhibition. It got me thinking about how the ‘window’ motif relates to the theoretical aspects of womens work and domesticity.

I started thinking about windows that look out onto landscapes. Words like ‘fields’, ‘windows’, ‘panes’, ‘openings’ and ‘frames’ went around in my head. The outside world, framed by a window pane.

I finished the paintings for the show in Exeter in the third week of October and set my mind back to making smaller pieces. These pieces became inspired by the window paintings I had made earlier on in the month and it soon became a motif that ran throughout most of the work made during October.

I started on 8” paintings, in order to practice making minimal but striking compositions. With the small pieces, it is easy to overwork them as you don’t have much room to work with within the frame. The 8” pieces are composed, sewn together and stretched quite quickly, making them the perfect size to experiment with ideas before carrying them over onto the larger, 15” pieces

I also spent the latter half of the month working on developing my slip casting skills. I fixed the problems I had been having with the slip cast vessel not releasing from the mould and thus, breaking. It turned out the specific gravity of my slip was way too low. I set to work perfecting the quality of my casts and experimenting with different methods.

I decided to move away from using my pigments and raw materials in glazes and decided instead to focus on using the raw materials in the clay body itself. I played around with painting pigmented slip onto the inside of the mould before pouring the plain casting slip in. This process left inclusions onto the smooth outer sides of the cups when they were released.

I also experimented with painting this pigmented slip, which I have named ‘ceramic paint’, onto the outside of dry greenware. In this instance the pigments were raised away from the smooth surface of the cups, creating subtle texture on the cup walls.

My final set of tests used pigments in the casting slip itself, rather than as a decorative element onto plain stoneware. I’m excited to fire all these tests in November and see where this new venture goes…

October also saw me really thinking about my materials and how I can use the fabric itself to say something in the work, not just what I put upon the fabric. I decided that I am going to experiment with using recycled materials in November, for example using neutral pillow cases, old sheets and clothing sourced from charity shops and then staining, painting and dyeing these fabrics for use in the works.

This would make for a more waste-free, environmentally friendly practice. Rather than funding the - sometimes unethical - production of new fabrics, I am recycling the old into something new. It also links so well to the women’s work themes of mending and repurposing that underline all aspects of my studio practice.

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November will be a busy month, with lots of travelling and time away from the studio. I am visiting Durham at the beginning of the month and then focusing on a shop launch in time for Christmas. In this shop I will be releasing a small selection of recent work made in my first couple of months at CAST. There will be small works on canvas, works on paper and hopefully a limited run of ceramic pieces available, too.

I will be heading to Exeter towards the end of November to drop my work off and attend the private view of the SW Graduate Exhibition at Exeter Phoenix Gallery. Details here if you’d like to visit whilst the show is on and see some of my new work in person.