Developing a new methodology

My recent work for The Holburne Museum, Bath has rooted out a new working methodology.

These works were produced by taking a preexisting object (a plastic ready to go jelly pot) and casting it, replicating it, distorting it to create a new work/sculpture. The approach used to make these sculptures echoes the processes used to make the original plastic cast jelly pot.

Gillian Rose (2012) in Visual Research talks about the three sites of production when creating images, or in this case, 3D works.

Interpretations of visual images broadly concur that there are three sites at which the meaning of an image are made: the site(s) of the production of an image, the site of the image itself, and the site(s) where it is seen by various audiences. 

So far I have begun to unpack the site of production. I have used the context of the jelly pot to inform my making process. I see this as being truthful to the production, or history of the object; essentially seeking the truth.

Preliminary drawings and plaster maquettes helped me to assess the visual content of the image itself. Experimenting with individual components was a suitable approach to establishing the most successful combinations.

And the audience site of the work will occur in a museum cafe on a banqueting table, which is highly appropriate.

This approach to making and showing work has been extremely useful in building on my preexisting knowledge and methodology. Concerning myself with the three sites of production will enable me to make work that is truthful, visually strong and is seen in the right space.

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It begins with Bernard. 

Most potters would have it that Bernard Leach is a revolutionary in the return of hand thrown ceramics to the British dinner table.

Here’s a man, returning to a country obsessed with highly decorative, highly detailed porcelain with an agenda to put simple, honest, functional objects back into the home. And actually makes a go of it.

‘Their ideas came as a shock to a Britain used to porcelain from Stoke-on-Trent: Leach pottery was sturdy and sensuous, using powerful, sombre glazes’.  (Campbell, S. 2008)


 But how did Leach convince the British  public to reject the fussiness of porcelain for his Standard ware? What made the British public accept this u-turn in ceramic design and production?

Aside from the nature of changing trends in fashion, standard ware’s functionality has easy appeal and is embibed with the making method. Simply made and sparsely decorated, and with only two making processes, throwing and glazing, standard ware pieces could be produced relatively quickly. But…with all the hallmarks of a hand made, hand produced, cared for piece of ceramic.

So there must be something appealing about the thrown object. Honest, sturdy, sensuous and most importantly, functional.

Are we still seeking these qualities in our own contemporary dinnerware and what is so captivating and sensousiosly inherent in the hand thrown object?

Well whatever way you look at it, you have to admit… his stuff is a bit nice.

 


  

All images Leach Trust (2014)