My ceramic work has involved figures, fish and bird images
as a major theme for well over thirty years. The figures are, typically, not meant as portraits, but instead refer to the psychological, and spiritual aspects of being human as well as referring to the human body as form. The animal images had a paralleling development, coming from an early fascination with Egyptian art and later inspired by my experience with and exposure to Staffordshire Figures and early ceramics produced in the area call the “Potteries” in Staffordshire, England. My work attempts to express feelings and responses appropriate to the experiences that have formed me and to evoke,
from the viewer, empathy and appreciation of the work. Newer work is characterized by an increase in elements reflecting connection, joy, sensuality and, occasionally, a bit of whimsy.
Staffordshire figurative ceramics are today a highly collectable example of early industrial age, handcrafted British ceramics. Staffordshire Ceramics intrigue and inspire me for many reasons among which are:
Historically, Staffordshire figurines were inexpensive, “accessible art”, available and commonly found in working-class British households;
The processes and materials used bear similarity to modern day handcrafted ceramic sculptures made by contemporary studio artists -- but were largely formed and painted by children unprotected by child labor laws and therefore, often display a primitive and light touch in the finishing;
The small scale, simplicity of form and decorative qualities relate closely to my own figurative work in clay. The British figurines typically portray public figures, current events and popular interests of society and serve as historical reference point.
My evolution as a clay artist has taken me through an involvement in each of what I consider to be the
three current and primary approaches to ceramics as “fine art”. These approaches include: “Arts and Crafts Movement” based vessels exemplified by the work of British artists William Morris and Bernard Leach who rebelled against industrial/commercial ceramics in the early 20th century; Glazed and painted modernist forms (large scale predominates); and, icon smashing, abstract, avant-garde work which pushes the traditional 19th century definitions of “pottery”. Over the past few years my work has increasingly reflected an interest in making art with significance and appeal to ordinary people. I have moved away from the esoteric and toward simplification of form and scale. I have increasingly applied qualities such as surface decoration and symbols that reflect back to the motifs of Staffordshire figurative ceramics. The figures I make attempt to bridge the gap between the sophisticated “fine arts” connoisseur and “everyman/woman”, and seek to express a universal message through expression and gesture.
Surfaces are intentionally worked to reflect a painterly and/or linear quality with the use of a varied pallet and subtle to high-gloss glazes. Surface imagery often goes beyond that dictated by the clay form. Technically the work is a low-temperature clay that has been oxidized in a cone 04 firing. Under-glaze stains are sprayed, smudged, and brushed on the surface to achieve the color effects.