A reflection for action – my mind before making

It’s raining. My rucksack is packed with all the necessary equipment. I do a mental check in my head: plaster, water, mixing bowl, trowel, heavy duty carrier bag, smaller carrier bags, towel for cleaning hands. Content with this list I start to confirm the making process.

  1. Arrive on site and locate suitable clay and objects
  2. Dig the clay with the trowel, place into a carrier bag.
  3. Use objects found on site and repeatedly press onto the clay bed.
  4. Combine the water and plaster in the bowl and mix until the consistency of custard is reached; I don’t want any plaster to leak out or settle prematurely.
  5. Pour the plaster into the cavity.
  6. Wait for the plaster to harden.
  7. Carefully remove, tidy, pack away.

With each step closer to the site a childlike excitement is bubbling more furiously until I find myself almost skipping; just to avoid the puddles of course.

Thankful that the site sits under the dual carriageway I think about how glad I will be to shelter from the rain. The site has been empty on my previous reconnaissance’s, but they were all on mild or sunny days. Who else might be seeking shelter today? A dog walker, a homeless person, a group of homeless people, a junkie, a group of junkies, a murderer? Suddenly my mind speeds forward to a scenario where I’m mixed up in an aggressive altercation, being flung down the muddy bank and swept away by the flowing river, watching as a shadowy figure finds meagre possessions in my rucksack.

Not content with this outcome my mind sets up another scenario where I successfully avoid being flung into the river by the shadowy stranger, but end up proclaiming ‘self defence!’ while Police pull a limp shadowy body from the river nearby.

This train of thought sets up a further chain of anxiety’s.

  1. Will the site be vacant?
  2. Is the river too high?
  3. Will there be enough exciting objects on site?
  4. Will there be any objects on site?
  5. Have I brought enough plaster?
  6. Will the casts be usable?
  7. Will the casts look appealing?
  8. Will I need the toilet?
  9. Will people stop and talk to me?
  10. Will people think I’m doing something illegal?
  11. Am I doing something illegal?

An enthralling blend of excitement and anxiety surge away, but there is nothing left to do but just arrive, decide and do. It is with relief that from the flyover I can see the site is vacant, the tide is out and a glistening surface of sloppy clay has been beautifully chiselled by the river.



Artists of Interest

Over recent weeks a few artists have either been recommended to me or I have come across their work through research. Writing about the work of the artists here I hope to make it explicit how their ideas/concepts/practice may be significant to my own work.

Julian Stair – Quotidian

I first saw the work in Crafts, (Gibson, 2015) issue after being given a free copy of the magazine. Stair is known for his functional ceramic ware but in Quotidian he wrestles with how contemporary craft is displayed in galleries and produces a stop motion video, shot from above, of people gathered around a table using his wares.

Initially the image is hard to read, but the extending of arms passing or gathering the wares signify the table set up for many courses. In the magazine, the stills of the video work well as a group/series of abstract works. The success of this work makes me feel that a range of stills from Man Only Dines #1 & #2  (shown below) could equally be as successful as showing the whole video. This way the work still has a life long after the moment or making experience has been achieved.


Luke Shalan – Slab Drop

This artist was recommended to me after a fellow student saw my work on tablecloths. I had started to set up table settings and cover them with porcelain.


An article on Cfile online magazine (Rodger, 2015) describes Shalan as a ‘process designer who explores the relationship between tool , material, creator/operator’ trying to discover ‘the experience of making’ (ibid). His porcelain pieces are ghostly casts of the everyday objects he comes across. Again the action is the art, the ceramic piece is the evidence.

Ian McIntyre – Jerwood Makers Open


Reflection for action:

  • art as experience
  • documenting the experience  (video/photography/ceramics)
  • functionalware as art
  • process as constraint