puddle clay

Installing work for the British Ceramics Biennial 2013

During the past six months I've been working on the Explore residency with my fellow Hothouse group for the British Ceramics biennial 2013.

After many weeks days and hours of figuring out how this particular installation is going to work and or indeed whether I'm going to be able to pull this off, finally it is in place ready for the grand opening next week.

It took me a week in total over several weeks to set up and here's my journey throughout this time.

Repetition over Time 2013
Day 1 Week 1 

I began cleaning the space out which was full of old electric cables and wires.
 Once that was complete I started to install the water system which will be slowly dripping on to the clay throughout the show. 

What struck me when I walked through the doors of the empty Spode site, particularly when I encountered the China Hall, was that this had once been a busy, noisy, environment that worked to its own rhythm - the repetition of production and processes that took place here for almost 250 years had been transformed into this quiet expanse.
Repetition over Time is an ephemeral response to the quiet that currently exists throughout the site.
This period of research has been an exploration into building an all encompassing, spatial experience through scale and materiality reflecting one moment in time.
 The continuous feed of water into the clay will gradually soften and begin to change the form, undergoing a metamorphosis and a echo of the buildings identity.

Day 2 

The frame was assembled and lined to create a structure for the clay to sit in and avoid any water spilling out on to the floor if too much water accumulates over time. 
I'm expecting the volume of clay will absorb the water and there shouldn't be too much access water as it will be switched off over night giving the structure some time to settle.

Day 3 Week 2 

My second visit I had the kind help from my trusted friend and my collaborative partner Sasha we had two 1 ton bags of clay to move into position over two days without her help I would still be there slowly moving this from A-B. 

The arrival of my clay.... 

Potclays have kindly supplied the clay for this project and as I wanted to use local clay it had been agreed that the best clay for the job would be puddle clay. Normally used in large engineering projects such as road or canal lining it's perfect for the overall aesthetic with stones and grass growth it hasn't been refined and it was always my intention to build this particular work using clay in it's pure raw form, as I wanted this to be a reminder that clay comes from the ground and not from neatly packaged cubes many people are familiar with.

Day 4 

The second bag of clay was installed. At this point I had the chance to leave the water running for approx 4 hours which gave me a good indication what was happening to the surface.

How much splash back I was getting from the impact of the water onto the clay's surface. Lighting became important at that point I felt it was necessary for this space to be dark and slightly claustrophobic. The incidental positioning of the mirror in the room also catches your attention as you walk into the space reflecting your own image back to you somehow making the experience more present. 
As you enter this narrow room you can feel the dampness from the clay hanging in the air.  
Sound was another element that was a main consideration and echoes the monotonous repetition of production that took place in this very building.
 The sound of the water making contact with the clay was something I had spent many months trying to figure out and of course the very nature of site specific work is that some of these elements will not be clear until you are on site working through these questions and others were slowly coming together nicely. 

Day 5 Week 3 

My final visit was to set up the process wall. From the beginning of this research I knew it would be important to have the work in progress shown in some format but until I knew what kind of space I was dealing it was difficult to make some of these decisions.

The Ink tests are an integral part of this research and I felt these have to be seen to inform some of the concept work. As this was the initial point of exploration. By introducing water into this piece of work Immediately started work with ink and water to try and gauge how liquid falls from varying heights and different sized funnel systems.

The process wall was something I wanted to be clean and clearly laid out creating a narrative between to two different spaces. The wall is positioned on the outside of the installation so depending on how you walk through the space you may encounter this space before the installation.

There will also be a slide show documenting each phase from my initial visit on site back in April / May 2013 right up to the final stages of installation.