Where are you based?
I work out of a studio at Banks Mill on Bridge Street in Derby. It’s a great building with so many other fantastic artists working there and it’s link to the University make it a great place to make new connections.
How did your artwork start out?
I’ve always drawn, since I could hold a crayon I would do nothing but draw non-stop. My work has always begun with illustrating the ideas pop into my head. Now I focus on turning those drawings into sculptures.
How do you get ideas for each piece of ceramic sculpture?
I get ideas and inspiration from a number of things, music is a big influence. Music has always helped the ideas in my head to form clearer images. Mostly though it’s in history that I find most of my inspiration. History is a tremendous incubator of ideas for me, finding relevant historical context that I can attach my ideas too allows me to create a world around my art. History gives me links to other things like objects and, myths and legends that all give my initial ideas a clearer direction.
How do you go about transforming an idea like that into an artwork?
Mostly I tend to see an image in my head first, then I draw it. Just getting an idea drawn out on paper first allows me to work out what the strong points of the artwork might be. Is it about the meaning? The colour? Or even the size. All these things involve finding the best way in which my intention for the piece can be realised. Mostly though I just need to make it, to get it out of my head and into the world. Then once I have I can see how it needs to evolve.
How has your artwork evolved over the years?
Over the years I think my artwork has become more authentic to me. I make art that is very much for myself. I don’t worry about whether it’s “Fine Art” or has elements of craft. As long as I can create something of quality and beauty then that’s all I really care about now. I make the kind of art that I want to see in the world.
What does your artwork aim to say to your audience?
I’m not sure what my artwork says to each individual but I like to think that the people who do “get it”, find a bit of joy in just enjoying the mystery of it. I think most people tend to see something quite strange and unusual when they look at my work, especially the skulls. Although the beauty within it allows them to look again and see past the things that they would have initially thought of as scary.
What is the most challenging about your work?
I think that the most challenging thing about my work is the material. Clay and porcelain in particular is a fantastic thing to work with. The only problem is it can be easy to trap air bubbles in the layers when building up a form. When this happens and the piece is fired, that air bubble will expand and find a way out, that usually means blowing a crack in your piece or sometimes even a giant hole. Clay can be risky business but I love it.
Where did you get your ideas from (what, if any, sources did you use)?
I get my ideas from nature. I’m drawn to animals that express power or fierceness but also beauty. Big cats like tigers and leopards in particular really capture my imagination. I also love to explore how other cultures see these creatures. In particular I have found the work of Professor Joseph Campbell to be a huge inspiration. You can find a whole collection of his lectures on mythology and religion on Spotify.
Looking back at your old works, what you do think about them now?
Sometimes I can look back at things and be really pleased with how it turned out, other times I can only see flaws. Mostly I tend to find that the work I still love is my ceramic art. That’s not to say that all my other work was bad but my ceramic pieces have always felt much more original to me. Especially after graduating I have found that the work I enjoy making the most and that other people have responded well too is my sculpture.
What is the most interesting or inspiring thing you have seen or been to recently, and why?
About two weeks ago I exhibited at Flux Exhibition at the National Army Museum in London. That was a fantastic exhibition with so many artists that are all in the same boat as me. It was inspiring to talk to so many artists from such different creative backgrounds, learning about their processes and absorbing their knowledge. I also had the chance whilst in London to visit the British Museum. They have some amazing exhibits and I saw so many artefacts from around the world that I found truly inspiring. I think my next body of work will be building on the things that I saw there.
Which other artist’s work do you admire, and why?
I’m a big fan of the American sculptor Beth Cavenar Stitcher. She makes some of the most beautiful animal sculptures I have ever seen. I love the way she uses the clay to create movement in the fur of the animals that she sculpts. Her use of matte colour to describe the emotion of the piece is something that I just adore about her work.
What’s next for you in the future?
I have spent the last 4 months working on bringing one idea together so now that I have brought that to completion I’m looking forward to starting something new. I think my latest project will be focusing on larger, more ambitious sculpture. My research is taking me towards aspects of animal worship in ancient cultures and I can’t wait to get started.