Monday feels

This week it’s my aim to improve my throwing skills, as I want to have thrown forms for my Ken Stradling project.

Today I spent probably 4 hours in the throwing room and made only 2 successful (if that) pots. I am very frustrated!!! I can’t make pots the same size yet and even making the simplest from was a challenge today: they kept going really wobbly and collapsing. I am beginning to wonder whether my research into the physics of wheel throwing has actually helped at all! Today definitely feels like a Monday; long day at uni, not much to show for it and the horrendous rainy weather to top it off!

After speaking to friends on my course they recommended I watch some throwing videos online; after saying how much they benefited from them. Also it depends what wheel one uses, as I found the one I used for the first two hours got progressively more clunky and wobbly; I think it’s something to do with the thing holding the gears together wearing away.

So that’s something I can do. I may also try and book a tutorial with Duncan too.

Ah well, tomorrow is another day!


Essay hand in- done!

Today I handed in my first essay of the term, and it feels great! Inspired by Art|Science lectures I’ve had this term with Dr Alexandros Kontogeorgakopoulos-I’ll just call him Alex. We went through various ways in which Science is connected to Art; from looking at fractals in Jackson Pollock’s paintings to the ratios found in music.

I’m not going to lie, some of it I didn’t quite understand, such as our lecture on sonic arts (it’s probably because I’ve never really played a musical instrument); however, some were eye opening as soon as I had a grasp on the concepts. Take the Golden Ratio for example. I knew of it, but not much else. Alex showed us the ratio and how it has been applied to many works of art: from Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to Middle Age cathedrals. The concepts from his lecture are things  I will continue to research and the whole idea of science linking to art.

I feel that using science to explain Art isn’t always necessary, but it has helped me practically with wheel throwing. I ended up writing my essay on wheel throwing and physics. Knowing the forces involved and how one can impact the other has given me another depth of understanding to my practice, and I wish to apply further scientific knowledge to other areas of Ceramics.

More posts on this subject to follow!

Fo(u)r Rooms

Today I met up with our field group… I am in the Fo(u)r Rooms group, which means we are doing interior design for one of the 4 glass fronted rooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors in our Art and Design building. This is a live project and the space we actually create will end up being used!

We have 10 weeks to complete everything and currently, we are into our 2nd week. I’m with Cameron, a fellow ceramicist, Laura from Textiles, Connor from Product Design, Emma- a designer-maker, Jon from Fine Art and April from Graphic Design. We are supposed to have 1 other person in our group- Fintan from Fine Art- but he has yet to turn up!

We are very much in the thinking phase and still continuing with our research, though we have decided to do a Machine Aesthetic theme. This was whittled down from Minimalism and Machine Aesthetic which were the two we’d taken from a list consisting of Art Deco, Modernism, Future Trends and Technology, Post Modernism, Arts & Crafts, Gothic, Baroque, Pop Art, Renaissance, Cubism, The Machine Aesthetic, Nostalgia, Constructivism, Retro Style, Minimalism and Victorian Futurism/Steam Punk. We made some mood boards for Machine Aesthetic and Minimalism and did a presentation on the two themes last week to the three other groups and our lecturers for the module- Duncan and Richard.
We decided to assign each person with a section of the presentation, that way we all spoke and we’d know what to say for the slides we’d each created. We all made our slides and sent them to April- being a Graphic designer, we thought she’d be the best person to make sure all our slides visually blended together. I feel like we did well with our presentation as we had researched our areas well and knew what we were talking about, which meant we could come to the decision of going with the Machine Aesthetic theme.

Our team making the mood boards

Our team making the mood boards

Our mood boards Minimalism and Machine Aesthetic

Our mood boards
Minimalism and Machine Aesthetic

Ken Stradling project

When us Second Year Ceramics students were tasked to do a presentation of our development of ideas for the Ken Straddling project, I was a bit nervous as I hadn’t actually been to this collection before. The day of the presentation was my first time. Pete gave me the low-down of the project aims and I had done my research online and in books.

I guess my starting point was over summer, because we were given the collections brief then; so I did some research at the Wellcome Collection in London and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.


Various bottles at The Wellcome Collection in London

I found out about the Arne Jacobsen 3107 chair in an article online by the Bristol Post and it was about this collection and it went on about how Ken bought a copy of the photograph of Christine Keeler sat in a copy the chair (the real design doesn’t have a hand grip).


Stacks of Jacobsen chairs in the basement where the Ken Stradling collection is based.


It was at the Pitt Rivers museum that I looked at headrests. There’s an amazing cabinet full of them made of ceramics, made of wood and I was just absolutely intrigued by them. There are all sorts of shapes; you can see a ceramic, rectangular one which was made in Japan. It struck me how structured the objects are and they mean comfort to people; just like the chair is. And that got me thinking how your body adapts to the shape of furniture… and that got me thinking… My ideas are kind of going along the lines of phenomenology.


A view from the first floor of the Pitt Rivers

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This is a sketch I did of the head rest cabinet


Various headrests, all shapes and sizes

I watched this documentary called The Tribe on Channel 4. And its interesting because it’s there that I first saw headrests and that’s what drew me to the cabinet at the Pitt Rivers museum.

And it’s interesting because in this picture you can see Ayke Muko (the tribe leader on the far right) resting his leg on one. They use them to sit on aswell, and when they go and visit other tribes and things they carry them with them much like you’d carry your mobile phone with you. So it’s that idea of comfort and familiarity.

I’ve just been playing around with clay and I like the idea how you can adjust the shape of clay with your body which contrasts with the fact that a piece of furniture can adjust your body shape.

I have started of with basics by literally printing my thumb into clay and then I experimented with pressing my friends head into a slab of clay and it’s really fun I love doing this. I wrapped the clay around her head.. . I thought that I’d get that really indented print but you don’t because the pressures very different and that’s working on a solid piece of clay.

That led me on to experimenting with making a cushion out of paper and bags and placing a slab of clay onto it and then pressing someone’s head onto it. These are the results:

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I like the ambiguity of these, like if you saw these in a gallery you wouldn’t know that someones head had been pressed onto them.



Different resting positions recorded. From left: Legs up on the sofa, resting head on elbow, head and crossed legs with hands resting on them.

And then I did some more experiments at home. The picture with the hands on clay is of my housemate.  I’m looking at resting positions, I think that’s where it’s heading; that idea of comfort and resting. I just saw her sat like that on the sofa and I thought it was really interesting how she rested her hands so I said to her “Just stay there” and I put a slab of clay underneath her and I wrapped it around and her arms and the result was quite interesting. She sat there for about an hour, I made her stay there! Luckily she was watching t.v so it was fine. And I tried to keep that shape because I found that pressing into clay with a cushion underneath, you get the shape and then it bounces back up again. So it’s the idea of keeping it where it is.


Bonnie Kempske

I’ve just finished reading a paper by Bonnie Kemske investigating the sensation of touching. Through her research she created huggable sculptures, which have been made with the body’s neurophysiology in mind. They are made to be touched and held; to engage the body with being aware of their sense of touch, instead of relying upon one’s other senses (often sight) to explore the works of art. I’ve been meaning to look more into her work since I discovered her sculptures a couple of weeks ago. It was when we did our presentation of our progress of work so far that Duncan mentioned Kempke’s research after I’d made a point that how in most galleries you kind of feel like you can’t touch an object. They are regarded as precious and untouchable; so to go up and have a presence and be at one with an object is exciting. Below are a few of her pieces used in the research investigation.

Machine Aesthetic


Kick started by industrial revolution, the machine aesthetic is inspired by the inner and outer working of machines. That could be the cogs which interlock to create a locomotion or the intricate workings of a watch. Pictured above is Stephenson’s Rocket, built in 1829 for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company, two major industrial cities in the Victorian era.


There was an explosion of ideas and machinery being made for the masses. Which included the production of different modes of transport. Including steam trains, cars and ships to be built in the early 20th century carrying on right up until the 1900’s.

Henry- Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson coined the architectural term International Style. This came about when in 1932 he collated the Modern Architecture: International Exhibition in the MOMA, showcasing architectural designs from this new movement by several European designers and a few Americans. Heavily influenced by Surrealism, The Bauhaus and Russian Constructivism, what made the style stand out was the architect’s ability to keep visible the construction of the buildings and the inner working of the building too, that being bare walls and columns and a limited number of rooms- most being open-plan. Also the minimisation of structural points was key, anything which didn’t need to be there, wasn’t, and letting as much light in the building through the use of a vast amount of windows wrapping most of the building, top to bottom was also an important aspect. A good example would be the Fagus Factory in Germany. Designed by Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer, this is a poignant marker of early modern architecture.


One could appreciate the architecture of the building, rather than it being masked by flamboyant decoration. Instead of hiding away the fact that this was a shoe factory, the revolutionary Germans Gropius and Meyer had embraced the power of making and the industrial age. Interestingly, most art buildings today are inspired by Gropius’s designs, there ideas have had a lasting impact on the art world.

Talking of which, Walter Gropius opened an art school with the idea to bring a fresh start to the war ravaged country; teaching the new genration practical and interlectual skills to build a less selfish and more sophisticated society. Marianne Brant was one of the few female artists at the school. She liked to use metal work in her pieces. Below is a Tea infuser and strainer designed by .I mentioned that Constuctivim influenced the International Style movement.. . But what was this exactly? I’m going to use Vladimir Tatlin’s work as an example. He was an artist – Tatlin’s Constructivist tower was to be built from industrial materials: iron, glass and steel. In materials, shape and function, it was envisaged as a towering symbol of modernity. It would have towered above the Eiffel Tower in Paris. A monument to epitomise the Communist International- their aim was for society to be liberated from capitalist oppression.

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The themes of International Style was asymmetry; severe, blocky, cubic shapes; smooth flat plain undecorated surfaces (often painted white); the complete elimination of all mouldings and ornament; ‘flat’ roofs; large expanses of glass held in steel frames. Picture a complete visual contrast to a style such as Baroque. Influenced by the recent industrial revolution and the introduction of super machines, such as the ocean liner Titanic, buildings often featured smooth wall-finishes and long strips of metal-framed windows. Below is Villa Savoye situated in Poissy, just outside of Paris. It was designed by the great Le Corbusier. One can see its similarities to an ocean liner and the use of windows


Machine-gray_oEunjae Lee applies the machine aesthetic within ceramics. This is called Silent Machine and it is a tea set. It is inspired by the components of an engine.

“…machines have stories that make them more beautiful than they were”. The stories remain in their times and evoke encompassing, though silent beauty. A tea time with them will deepen its value by their hidden stories and strength.The artist talks about having a new respect for the machines during the industrial age, what they did for us, how they enable the scope in technology to expand, to grow. Now rusty and dormant, Silent Machine is almost a memorial, a reflection of what the machines once were and how they served us. Lee then goes on to say in her description of the piece “…based on aesthetic interpretations of much functionalized forms. While each object is individually seen as an aesthetic ornament, its beauty can be recognized when it functions as one of the elements composing the whole. Mathematical silhouettes and details evoke mechanical and rigid images.”