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Dark Materials

Updated: May 16

I am currently in the process of revamping my website, and having a thorough clear out of all the projects I have on display that are no longer relevant to my practice. It feels refreshing to have a new start and to establish a clear direction for my work going forward. There are a few projects that haven't made it to the final cut, however are worth a mention here as they have had an important role in the development of my work, research and technical experience. This one in particular was significant as I started to bring together my long-held interests in darkness and black forms and my relatively recently acquired skills in ceramics.



Inspiration

In 2019 I was awarded the a-n Artist Bursary to undertake a residency with Lumen Studios at Lizard Point in Cornwall and develop work in response to it. The residency was loosely themed around the subject of Astronomy and for me I wanted to research the experience of natural darkness. I was interested in the psychological effect of being in darkness and the visceral effect dark textures and objects have. I took inspiration from the book 'The End of Night' by Paul Bogard which examined the value of darkness to the human experience. It explores the effect being in the dark can have, including heightening your awareness of the natural world around you, and giving people a closer relationship to the stars. I wanted to make objects that alluded to a sense of depth and connection with the wider universe, similar to the experience of looking at a starry night sky.

Dark Pools

The result of this project was a collection of 'dark pools', which were large dishes containing strange black textures and surfaces resembling pools of turbulent liquid and allusions to starry skies. I used some iron-rich Serpentine rock samples collected at Lizard Point in the glaze as it added to the dark tones. I felt this was an appropriate material link to the iconic dark dramatic rock of the coastline. This project was an excellent opportunity for me to experiment with texture. I made a lot of tests involving layering up black glazes and slip to create the cracked and flowing textures which have now become a regular feature of my work. I like this effect as it appears to be in an ambiguous state between solid and fluid, there is an allusion to forces on the material causing it to crack or move.



Link to the past

This interest in dark textures and turbulent surfaces has always been a prominent feature of my work.

Over the years I have accumulated several projects that explore darkness, or the colour black. I have been interested in this for its enigmatic regenerative association, and the possibility of black materials and objects that offer a connection to a deeper part of our consciousness. During my undergraduate project, I explored sculptural black forms that have a density and compelling absorbing quality to them. For me the formless black surface rather than representing something ominous, or melancholic, I imagined as alluring, mystifying, and representing something subconscious.



Future

At around the same time I was working on this project I started developing a series of spherical forms that appeared to be in varying degrees of growth or decay. I was thinking about appearance of material on a planetary scale and the geological forces that can be seen through density and layers of different textures. These offer a perspective of materials on a large scale, particularly the link of ceramic materials to the large-scale geological forces that shape them, and the ever-changing cycles these materials go through. The 2 projects informed each other as they developed and I am now focusing on the development of these spherical forms incorporating my explorations of glaze texture and density.



I am very grateful to a-n (The Artist Information Company) and Lumen Studios for allowing me to develop my work and explore ceramic materials in this way. I am looking forward now to a focused period of developing a series that combines these materials qualities with allusions to a wider cosmic scale.



a-n The Artist Information Company

Lumen Studios

The End of Night by Paul Bogard



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