Nantgarw China Works is still extremely active in encouraging, supporting and promoting contemporary artists working with ceramics. The China Works currently provides studio space and facilities to three outstanding ceramicists all of whom create, fire and exhibit new work on the premises. All three artists actively pass on their skills to both adults and children through regular workshops at China Works.
My current work has been inspired by ‘Blanc de Chine’ produced in Dehua, the capital of the Fujian Province in Southwest China. This came about as a direct result of a visit to the ‘Fragile’ Exhibition at the National Museum of Wales. I was very interested in a small bowl which had been produced at the Bow factory in London. I researched this item and found that the influence for the bowl was Blanc de Chine.
Blanc de Chine refers to the ‘White of China’ and it is the quality of surface that can be achieved in the porcelain that has inspired my work. I am also intrigued by the fact that Dehua was often left with part of a foot unglazed in order to show the ‘nature and beauty of the underlying clay’. I have always felt that when you completely enclose porcelain with a glaze, something is lost.
The other influence on this body of work came as a result of attending a print making course. I fell in love with the patterns that are produced with this media. I then worked on the surface of the clay with an erosion technique which has given me the marks that I searched for in my work.
Some of my pieces have colour applied to the inside in order to add a contemporary twist and also to add an inner warmth.
I am a graduate of the Royal College of Art and an artist in residence at Nantgarw China Works Museum. At the Museum I run clay and glaze surface embellishment workshops for adults and children focusing on the history of the China Works and its connection to boat horses along the Glamorganshire Canal. I am from the Rhondda Valleys, my artwork explores human emotions and gender dysphoria issues through the plasticity of clay using the symbolism of the horse and side saddle.
Through the award of an Arts Council of Wales grant, I have been able to research the history of the horse in ceramics to produce a new body of work and touring exhibition in South Wales. I am preparing a PhD proposal and would like to publish my research as a book, All Things Equine, The History of the Horse in Ceramics.
Keen to develop my career as a professional ceramic artist, I have recently been invited to become a member of the Royal Cambrian Academy and exhibited in the summer exhibition 2016. My Clay Horses exhibition, made at Nantgarw, was part of the ceramic exhibition ‘IMAGO’ at Keramikmuseum, Westerwald, Germany and I have also exhibited work in China at Fule International Ceramic Museum, Shaanxi which has awarded me a residency for 2017. In the summer of 2017 I am part of Wild Things exhibition in the Netherlands. I am passionate about promoting ceramic education and have taken part in BBC Radio Wales interviews and programmes broadcast on S4C.
My work revolves around animals and I have used them in this concept to explore very serious issues in modern day societies around the world. I concentrate on colour and humour within my work to capture the viewer’s attention and find it very amusing when they realise the seriousness behind my work. My ‘animals’ have mixes of human and animal traits and evolve from my imagination, fuelled by my hate of animal experimentation and genetic engineering.
My animal sculptures have been carefully made to confuse the viewer’s emotions and opinions as they play the innocent childhood games that I can relate to as a child with sinister anthropomorphic hands.
These games and juxtapositions act as metaphors for the many forms of lost innocence that children face today.
All these sculptures have been made in Nantgarw China Works. They are hand built using various forms of building including coiling, slabs and pinch pots. They are white earthenware, bisque fired and finished with oxides, under glazes and mixed media. I enjoy the unpredictability of working with oxides and the fact that no two pieces are ever the same.