Plans after graduation

I have been in the education system for nearly 20 years, so I would like to have a break from education after graduation. For six months I will be working full time, saving money for travelling in January 2018.

I will be going to New Zealand, Australia and Thailand, coming back to the UK at the beginning of March. This will be a massive source of inspiration for me, a complete change of natural environment compared to the UK, there will be plenty of moments I can sketch. I am especially looking forward to going on the 90 mile beach in Auckland and exploring modern architecture- such as the Opera House- in Sydney as well as century old temples in Thailand.

I am currently researching into buying a small kiln so I can start making things at home over the weekend, on my days off.

And then next year I wish to do INC space. I feel I need a year to step back in order to re-focus; and to get a detailed business plan together.

Along with this I wish to volunteer at the Pitt Rivers museum, having sent off an application to be an object handler, I am waiting to hear back from them! This will be a brilliant place to extend my contextual ceramic knowledge as well as share my passion of the material with the public.

I am exhibitng my degree work at New Designers the following month and also  going to Hatfield in August. In preparation for this I have made business cards and my website will be complete on the day of my degree show ready for the public to look at.

The creativity never stops, I am continuing to make in the studio, as its essential I have enough stock for Hatfield. I am selling my tiles as table coasters. Because of their tessellating nature, customers can buy just 3 or more, and play with the composition, giving them the option to use their creativity and make interesting arrangements for their dining and coffee tables. imageIn the long term, it would be a dream come true to do a Ceramics residency at the V&A. About a year ago I had a really interesting chat with Amy Hughes during her open studio day. She made fantastic coil built vases, inspired by pieces from the museum. It excites me to think that I could cast century old ceramics from the V&A’s ceramics collection and use parts of them to create other objects in completely new and innovative ways.

Alos, Thomas Heatherwick is a huge source of inspiration and the projects he has done with the Heatherwick’s Studios are amazing. To have a large scale installation/sculpture in a building like he did in the Wellcome Trust headquarters with Bleigessen is the pinnacle of my goals.


Exhibition Reflection

imageThe final hurdle of level 6 was, of course, the end of degree exhibition. I must say I seem to work well when given deadlines, rather than having a seemingly never ending project. Psychologically, it’s the journey towards the end point and the satisfaction of seeing the end result and knowing all of the hard work you have put in; that’s the kick I get out of it. I think this became prominent in my Field project last year: I feel that my Fo[u]r Rooms live interior design project- led by product design lecturer Richard Morris- provided a steady framework for this and I am pointing in the direction of design rather than art. Also when it comes to presenting final outcomes, there is a level of finish I like to attain, not dissimilar to when,for example, product designers show their final designs on a clean sheet of mount board.
It’s also taken me a while to realise and it’s only through the reflection process it has come to light: I prefer to create things that have a function. So you could say I am more of a designer than an artist.I think this is also apparent in my research for this module: some of it flicking through Elle Decoration journals and reminiscing of the time I explored step wells in India. My tile collection can be an installation, but they can also brighten up a kitchen or bathroom lending their glazed surface water proofing to a wall. They are versatile.
Time management was a crucial thing for me, due to falling ill during Easter, it was essential I had made up for lost time. Luckily I planned ahead and aimed to produce more tiles than I actually needed to allow for errors and breakages. I worked this out and measured out and mixed up all the slip I needed for this in advance: when I ran out of slip, I stopped making. Making up for lost time meant coming in during weekends, but because I had this plan to keep going until I had used up all the slip, I had a goal to work towards, and it psychologically brought the finish line that much closer.
When it came to the degree show set-up, I was concerned about time, I had to give myself an earlier deadline (Wednesday 9th May instead of Friday 12th) due to a hospital procedure on 12th. However, a problem shared really is a problem halved. The shortage of set up time wasn’t an issue when I had the help of second and first year “buddies”- Marek, Nina and Nam. Also Fine Art graduate and Inc Space member Molly Lewis has given me lots of advice over the year and offering a hand. I also appreciated the help from my boyfriend-Jake. I have learnt that it is okay to ask for help rather than struggle by myself. It has given me the confidence for when I do have my own studio space or undertaking a project and am struggling, a helping hand isn’t far away, I’ve just got to ask!
What also helped in the short time I had to set up was the fact that I had planned out my composition before I put it out the wall, taking photographs of it to refer to. I would be up the ladder being passed a tile from Nam, and then she would look at the photographed layout and direct me on where it was to go: it was a good system and something I will do again. Moreover, to make sure the tiles didn’t say to the left or right, I drew out guidelines using a spirit level and meter long ruler, although it initially took time drawing out a grid, it saved me lots of stress on the second day of set up, making the rest of tile application very quick- evidence that planning is key!

Subject Reflection

imageOver the course of my degree, I have learnt that my interest lies in geometries. I thrive in the satisfaction of transforming a lump of squidgy clay into a collection of angular Tessellating shapes. The manifestation of my ideas evolved from linear patterns to geometries. I began to decorate 3D slab constructed vessels with optical illusions, and was very concerned with the surface. The theme that remained the same right from the start of the year was my production of Interlocking forms. I began first by making 3D tangrams. This then of course evolved to Tessellating tiles. It was vital for me, that the tiles created an optical illusion which submerges the audience into an enhanced, dreamy mood. I am delighted at how my ideas developed as it has enabled me to go down a completely new avenue of creating wall pieces that can be both an installation in a gallery or functional bespoke tiles.
It was essential that I used cobalt blue stain in the making of the slips, the colours are all cool and refreshing, adding to the enhanced mood I wish to give the audience. They also had to be satisfying to look at, so they all combine well, with no two colours touching each other. This was very enjoyable for me as I had chosen these specific colours and was pleased with the outcome when it came to composing them on the wall. I am truly happy with physical outcome of my idea development. I am my own worst critic so for me to say the more I look at my tiles the more I like them is something!

Creating these tiles required me to step outside of my comfort zone, it had always been my wish to creat such smooth straight shapes, and in order to do that o felt my best option was to make plaster moulds of laser-cut Perspex shapes. A positive of this it that I had worked in the plaster room quite a lot in the previous academic year, creating my building blocks moulds and making slip casted spoons. However, I had never used illustrator before and hadn’t really stepped foot in the soft modelling workshop during my degree. I was actually quite nervous about doing this as I don’t see myself as a “digital person” and felt I would make silly mistakes. Worries aside, I did it, and I’m glad I used this digital approach… Not only were the soft modelling technicians incredibly helpful, I was surprised at how relatively easy the process was. In my head I was making a bit of a mountain out of a mole hill!
Moreover, I have gained a new skill and I will definitely be progressing with more designs on illustrator after I graduate. Is also worth noting that I’ve mastered my finishing techniques; a process I will stick by in the future: spend time making quality, pristine moulds. The neater that are the less work you have to do later on the castes article. Even with lovely moulds, I had to sand all my tiles after bisque, to keep their sharp appearance which for me was so critical in the composition, as the tiles will slot together smoothly, lending to the 3D illusion. To my delight the final kiln firing was a success without any breakages, I was like the Cheshire Cat when I unloaded my kiln!

The contextual research which helped pave the manifestation of my ideas had a lot to do with two things, architecture and colour. Interestingly, my trip to Rajasthan in Level 5 provided a massive source of inspiration for me, it was truly an assault to the senses, and the variety of beautiful architecture has been stamped in my memory. The most inspiring source of deign were indeed the step wells. The repetition of steps continuing downwards in an inverted pyramid was so satisfying for me to observe; the continuation of steps re,indeed me of Escher’s impossible landscapes which then resulted in me looking at Reutersvard’s 2D impossible shapes. This was the seed which planted my interest in optical illusions .
I must say it took me a while to work out where my original source of inspiration came from for the degree show; I had to retrace my steps. Going through my photographs on Instagram helped me discover my trail of inspiration; it provided a timeline of condensed research. This tied with our blogs set the scene; I would often go back to posts I wrote a few years ago, and it’s amazing how relevant some of them are to my current work.
Lastly, but not least, colour was key. Whilst I was creating certain colours- Celadon, Prussian Blue, Puce and Ultramarine- I realised how much I thrive in deciding what colours go together, and there significance- both culturally and psychologically. For example, green is known as being a calming colour, reducing eye fatigue which an be caused by looking at red – hence the reason why hospitals are full of green floors and surgeons often wear scrubs of that colour. The fascination I have for colour and the stories behind each one encourages me to explore and research them more after I graduate; retaining an emphasis on my colour palette in future projects.

Artist Statement

Interiors are a stage for our lives. It’s not just about function; it’s more like scenography” Nika Zupanc
Whilst functional, these tiles also create optical illusion, suggesting space through strategic placement and choice of colour.
Their encaustic earthenware surface is left unglazed or to achieve a water resilience, decorated with a clear glaze and able to decorate and protect walls, particularly in areas
such as the kitchen and bathroom.
They are also an art installation, although geometric and involving digital processes, they retain a sense of the organic, much like ivy climbing a wall, echoing the repetition of shapes and pattern apparent in nature. The pristine shapes set in contrast to subtle marbleised pattern and specks of grog.
Blending traditional methods of slip casting with digital laser cut forms, the tiles capturewandering eyes; inviting you into a depth of colour and form; an immersion prompting you to slip into a daydream.

Ideas for pattern within the composition of my tiles

Using photoshop, I took existing photographs of my tiles and duplicated them to produce patterns. It’s refreshing to use a different medium of exploring composition rather than my usual cutting out printed out pictures and collating them in my sketchbook.
It’s also interesting visually looking at the outcome when only a few colours are used. With a repeated pattern and only two colours, it gives an entirely different, more orderly feel to my pieces. I see this as a positive as it means they can be used for different purposes and maybe blend in to the interior of a house rather than being a statement piece of wall art.

I particularly like the rotating grey marble rhombus. Repetition proves a nice contrast to the random nature of the marbled effect. Also, just the blue and green Tessellating tiles on their own look very formal, and extends their possibility of being used in more of a corporate, stricter environment.

The star arrangement with the pale blue marble, blue and green lends itself to a more traditional Asian interior; so this ties the designs nicely back to my original source of inspiration: Rajasthan.

Green is good

Expanding on colour, I am very intrigued by the calming properties green has. Since one of main aims and ideas is to enhance the mood of the audience: for them to slip into a daydream, choosing the right colours is a necessity.

I initially researched the effects of greens and blues. Green was originally introduced in hospitals to reduce the glare of traditional hospital whites. Also it is a sign of health and wellbeing: Healthy plants always have fresh green leaves.And blue is often associated with calmness, like calm waters in the Mediterranean for instance, and a clear blue sky.

Although I am not designing these tiles for a hospital, I found a very interesting study by the NHS on colour in hospitals.

The information I read can be applicable anywhere, not just in hospitals. Green also provides a high contrast environment, reducing eye fatigue caused by looking at too much red (blood). Perhaps this is why the Royal Infirmary in Cardiff decorated this space pictured above with green tiles.

It also makes red blood splashes ‘less conspicuous”. Overall, the colousr of my tiles are pretty easy on the eye, but still capture the audience’s interest through the optical illusions the tiles make up. Interestingly, the best colour for judging colour is grey, so by slotting in my marbliesed grey tiles,it refocuses one’s attention to the puce, ultramarine, celadon and prussian blue tiles.