For a while now I've been trying to make sense of the many many different strands of focus and interests that make up my practice.
Because I don't make collections of work or have a range of objects I'm reconised by or known for I think I can often feel as though I have many separate elements.
However, on closer inspection I really don't think that is necessarily the case.
There are key ideas and points of reference I take for my conceptual thinking and in this post I hope to be able to show some of the inspiration, sources of research and smilarities that run throughout my multi layered working methods.
If I begin with ceramics as this is always at the core of my thinking despite the fact I may not always use it or indeed fire it. Most of my exploratory work begins around either clay, clay materials in their raw form or clay soils.
Puddle clay from Stoke on Trent
Raw clay before it's processed into bags or made it's way through a pug mill.
This is one stage I love about this material, It can be seen in clay pits in such large quantites and it hi-lights how enormous, heavy, and dense this is but for me it really inspired ideas of being able to built on a large scale.
On the other end of the spectrum I adore using porcelain it's a material that really needs to be handled with care and experience. Where I'm at this present moment with porcelain is trying to reliquish control and push it to it's breaking point.
Brick a clay material I fell in love with during my MA.
By using multiples allows you to build sizeable pieces of work but I'm also drawn to materials that may be considered mundane or ordinary. Most of us may be confronted with brick on a daily basis but it becomes somewhat invisible or we take it for granted as a standard building block for houses and buildings.
Once you step away and begin to look more carefully at the range of bricks the different colours and textures used and how they have been positioned together it becomes more evident that the common brick offers so much more.
The Red House
Continuing with the possible idea of the mundane the next subject has recently become prominent after my exhibition last year at Siobhan Davies dance where I was looking at local London clay and soils specific to Southwark. This has opened up a new fascination with soils and geology across the UK.
Wherever, I visit I take a roll of small plastic bags and a small trowel with me to remove a sample and come home to test it out on to canvas.
Layers for the Human Nature Season at Siobhan Davies 2014
The act of making is obviously an huge part of what I do and this can often be overlooked when confronted with a final piece of work. Process and working methods are equally important, sometimes I find it can be more important and revealing that's one reason I always like to give an insight into each project from start to finish.
Whether this is on paper, Canvas or clay. Texture and surface normally plays a part in what I explore and it maybe linked back to my fascination with the handling of materials and tactility.
Moving on to art movements other artists designers and architects I've already mentioned Richard Serra, Anselm Kiefer and Peter Zumthor in previous posts.
I haven't talked about Minimalism or Land Art in any great depth. Two movements that have had an influence on my work to date and continues to.
I've recently been reading a book called Minimalism: Origins by Edward Strikland.
One difficult question I was asked was: What is your aesthetic?
I find that fairly tricky to answer however, I will attempt to and the two words that immediately come to mind are Minimal and Raw.
I try not to overly complicate work but when you are working with materials that have normally come straight from the ground I like to keep them as pure as possible you are ultimately dealing with an unrefined quality.
Here are two examples of work I'm particularly fond of in the Forest of Dean and think they both encapsulate my description.
Raw By Neville Gabie, located 2001
By David Nash, charred larch
Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail
Architectural spaces, Phenomenology
Something I always strive for in my work is to involve the audience or to allow the viewer to be able to react with the work on a sensory level. I'm not interested in making precious work that can't be touched, walked through, sat on. This is a common notion born from the context of the gallery and I'm certainly not a fan of the plinth.
The plinth for me conjures up the notion of unapproachable work that can simply be viewed or enjoyed from afar.
Phenomenology is a subject I attempted to begin to understand about four or five years ago. It's often talked about in the context of architecture and architectural practice.
It's a huge area to try and condense down into a few sentences.
Essentially it has been born from philosophy and psychology based around the work of Edmund Husserl, and later developed by Heidegger.
Phenomenology is the human perception of a place space or experience. it's not tangible and this makes it a complex area to try and define.
Despite that being the case it's something I try and capture within parts of my research and development of an idea or project.
Whether this is through tactility, sound, light, dark, small confined spaces, or the positioning of the work itself. Every small detail and subtle nuance is considered.
Winchester Cathedral Crypt.
Finally gardens are another important part of my practice. Fascinated with space, colour, planting, I grow plants myself this has to help with my understanding and appreciation. Gardens are more than simply places to step outside into.
Gardens are to be truly experienced and there is a sense of freedom that can be gained from a garden. During my MA I spent a lot of my research visiting different kinds of garden spaces. From the highly formal layout of Sissinghurst to the French show in Chaumont exhibiting more experimental spaces.
They are spaces that are in a constant state of transformation not only with the plants life cycle but also with the weather conditions and changing of the seasons means that gardens are never static. You experience these fleeting moments and then it moves into the next phase and this continues all year round.
Japanese Garden Vancouver