Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed Home Truths this term. It has allowed me to develop my understanding of ceramics and learn new skills that I hope to apply across to my subject work. My subject work presently does not use ceramics, however it is a material that I wanted to adopt into my work, and Home Truths has given me that confidence to do so. Up until now, I have kept my ceramic work and artwork very separate. Home Truths has given me the key to begin to integrate these two lines of production together. Additionally, before Home Truths I really struggled to get all the inductions I would need to be able to fully utilise the ceramic department. Now I am fully inducted and will be able to start my use of ceramics in my art next term.
I began Home truths by looking at ceramic artist, Elizabeth Fritsch. In particular, her vessel, ‘Blown-Away Vase, Over the Edge, Firework XII’. I was drawn to this vessel due to its bold use of colours and patterns, and fore-shortened shape, creating the idea of an optical illusion. The use of colour and pattern is what I have been focusing my subject work on, in particular, how they can be used to convey a place. From the beginning I wanted to link my work from Home Truths across to my subject work, and I thought Fritsch’s vessel was a good example for both. Although my Home Truths work has moved away from using colour and pattern to commemorate, Fritsch was still a really important starting point for my project and has allowed my work to improve and develop quite dramatically.
Throughout Home Truths I have learnt a variety of new techniques and processes within the making and decorating of ceramics. Before the project began, I had a fair amount of experience in throwing and hand building, however I had never done press moulding, which is a process that I have really enjoyed using and want to apply across to by subject work. It is an easy way to make large vessels fast. Through decoration, I learned a variety of techniques. Although simple in concept, I found the resist painting with slips and using paper towels really effective and beneficial for the decoration of my own work. It is such a simple concept, but it allowed me to achieve precise and intricate shapes that I would not have been able to achieve with a paintbrush alone. Also I have never really worked with coloured glazes before, only underglazes. It was really exciting yet intimidating to use the glazes, especially the oxides, as they change colour in their glaze firing. This unpredictability in the glaze, and ceramics in general, I found really exciting but daunting. Within my subject work I am used to having complete control over my work. I think loosing this control and having things not always go right was really beneficial for me and may translate over into my subject work, as it may allow me to experiment more without worrying about the final outcome.
Timing was a key element in the project. Within Fine Art and my practice, it is very easy to get immediate results and finished pieces. However ceramics is a lengthy process as you have to account for drying time, and the two kiln firings. In addition, things can very easily go wrong. I struggled with this time management a little bit which translated across into my work. For example, I applied white slips to my sculptures when some of them were too dry, causing several to crack. The same goes for when I used sgraffito to scratch the images onto the sculptures surface. The clay and slip were too dry on several of my sculptures, causing clumps of the slip to fall off when I was trying the scratch the lines. This lead to less defined illustrations than I was hoping for. Although I made these mistakes which ultimately affected the visual outcome of some of my sculptures, it was a learning curve that I will be able to apply forward in any future ceramic work I make.
The whole of Home Truths revolved around the idea of commemoration and how we could commemorate through objects. This was actually much harder to do than I initially thought as I am used to creating work solely for myself and what I am interested in. I began the project by only looking at colours, patterns and personal photographs. A problem arose that this commemoration was too personal, and that a wider audience would not be able to relate to my work. I had never even thought about this as I am so used to making work to please myself alone. Home Truths made me challenge my initial views and create work that a wider audience may be able to relate to. Although I still had my work as a personal commemoration of memories, holidays and therefore places, with the use of sgraffito to etch in personal images, I had to adapt my initial ideas to be more relatable. I came up with the idea of making miniature sculptures of typical tourist souvenirs from different places around the world, hoping that people would look at these objects and be reminded of places they have visited.