Personified/empathy vessels

Trying to analyse what my theme is, what topic am I most interested in and how am I representing that in my ceramics?


My primary focus is on the handmade - I like elevating the status of day-to-day pottery and making it more valuable by employing skill and traditional techniques. But, in terms of theme I like making aesthetic objects with a sense of overt ugliness. They're not perfectionist and each are un-uniform and have their own personality. I think I need to start exaggerating elements more as I like playing with ideas of distortion.


When thinking about themes that I often explore in my work, I kept coming back to emotions and empathy. I enjoy making emotive pieces that either stem from a place of feeling or come from an emotional context, being about provoking topics.


Developing my folding textural vessels further, I tried to take on board what Bridget and I discussed. When thinking about the themes that run through my work it is often a desire to make the viewer connect with my objects, be it through a shared experience or by projecting a feeling the onlooker relates to.


Reflecting on my drooping vessels (pictured below) I wanted to develop on the feeling that they exuded. To me, they give off a sense of grossness and disgust as it the folds and bulges resemble that of the human body and skin. I'm also interested in capturing human emotions within my ceramics so wanted to explore a way to further personify these vessels and make my meaning more evident to onlookers.


I had the idea of using the same making technique but to create a figurative sculpture. The folding coils create bulges and distortions in the body well and would give a definite 'gross' appearance. I want the viewer to feel somewhat disturbed by the figure as it appears to stagger across the surface, dripping/oozing away and melting down into the ground. I want to stir feelings of disgust and also a sense of sadness for the character as it appears to be decaying in front of you, raising questions of what happened to it? Did it deserve this fate? I hope people project their own life experiences onto the creature and feel some form of empathy towards it, forming a connection to it or its experiences.





















Making process:



Object #1:

At this point of making I decided to leave it here. I liked the idea of questioning what a vessel could be while also humanising it. The legs make it seem like the lower half of a torso, but could it also be something growing organically from the ground? This could be a more commercial route of selling my work because this sort of form could be used functionally as well as sculpturally. The uneven surface works very effectively in portraying ideas of decay with the bends in the 'knees' giving it life and the illusion that it could be walking towards you. It appears human but also could be a different creature, but allows the viewer to decide what they want it to be - are they disgusted? or do they relate to the struggle the form seems to be going through?


Object #2:

Although I am pleased with object #1, I wanted to follow through with my initial plan and make a more complete figure. Nevertheless, I was very happy with my idea of challenging what a vessel could be so decided to leave the top open and just build up the torso. I'm really happy with this development, I left ' tears' in a few areas to further emphasise the look of decay and tried to make this figure look more like its moving through the stance it stands in.


Reflection and evaluation:

Taking this piece further - glazing:

The maker marks are similar to cross-hatching in drawing. I could accentuate this by using colouring oxides onto the bisque surface before applying glaze.


Another option is leaving this piece unglazed - the rough, raw finish of the stoneware would compliment the textural surface marks and seem sharp. The piece seems almost longing for comfort so the contrast of it not being comfortably holdable due to its sharp nature is a nice addition to the feeling of empathy I'm trying to evoke.


Alternatively, I could explore various glazes and layering techniques to create a very maximalist 'gross' surface. Using colours that may not compliment each other or textures that look uncomfortable could also enhance the concept behind this piece.

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