Summative post


“Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping.” Hubert Reeves

“If all the insects were to disappear from the earth, within 50 years all life on earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.” Jonas Salk

My work aims to challenge our relationship with nature, how we perceive, connect and interact within it. I wish to convey, through the use of ceramics, the delicate situation in which we find ourselves, incorporating notions such as balance, the irreplaceable and rebuilding. I am drawn to the fragile qualities of ceramics and have created a sculpture which explores the magical, yet at the same time aims to comment on the destructive nature of human error. In our constant quest for perfection and order, we attempt to straighten out the tumbling, spontaneous spirals of life, and losing as a result its very essence. We are not separate from nature, but a part of it, a big beautiful muddle of limbs, thunder and mud.

Context 1 – Manacorda, ‘Radical Nature’ 


Context 2 – Jay Griffiths, ‘Wild’

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Documentation 1 – Tree faces


Documentation 2 – fungi fingers


Context 3 –Kate Macdowell


Context 4 – Agetha Dyck, Bee collaboration


Documentation 3 – Gap crit


Documentation 4 – Making drawers 


Documentation 5 – Bugs in drawers


Context 5 – Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds

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Setting Up The Show

It is the final day and time to get everything up and ready. I was very happy with the trial run of my piece undertaken last night and have simply added the top drawer to make it complete. I finished off the inside of the drawers by selecting the best made insects I wanted to display inside them, choosing one bee, two ladybirds, three dragonfly, four beetles, five moths and six butterflies. Once they had been chosen (based on best glaze results, minimal breakage etc.) I supported them off the bottom of the drawers using a small amount of strong gold wire. I am so happy I went through with this original design idea as it displays each insect perfectly.  Once I had done this for all of my insects, I moved on to the outside of my drawers and added more gold leaf. Through the gold I wanted to heighten the precious qualities but I feel that this effect also ages the piece in an elegant way and emphasises the spiral shape that is an integral part of the work. As I was adding the gold leaf I allowed it to float down onto other areas of my work, dusting the frame and the tops of other boxes with gold. I feel that this further emphasised the delicate and magical qualities. As people brushed past, gold was lifted up into the air and swirled around my work.

I then moved on to hanging my arm branch piece. I knew that I wanted to display the arm to the left of my two walls, allowing the sunlight to fall onto it and providing a solid focal point beside my statement.I started by drilling a hole into the strong line of the wall. This was a little higher than I was planning, but is the only place in the wall it is safe to hang heavy things from. I adjusted my work to this by allowing the silk scarf to hang with a little more length than I had origionally planned, which in hindsight allowed me to add more twists and knots, adding much needed strength. I wanted my arm piece to be a little below head height, meaning that people would have to peer down at it, truly making the effort to see. I believe that by encouraging people to look more closely, they will see things they may have missed at a glance. They may appreciate that this is a good philosophy for life and that by taking the time to observe and to properly understand things, it is incredible what you actually discover.

Finally I hung my frames. I wanted to do this last as I wanted to get a feel for the impact my other pieces were having in the space first. From my trial layout I already understood what my frames may look like on the wall, but I wanted to get the composition perfect, so I asked some peers and tutors what they thought about my proposed order and shape. As a result, a few frames were switched around from the original layout and then all that was left to do was hang them. I wanted to be very cautious that I did not hang them too high to stay in keeping with my concepts. It is very important to me that the viewer must be taken out of their comfort zone and encouraged to bend down or sit on the floor to view all of the paintings. This encourages the viewer to be more childlike and suggests that like in nature, you must take a closer look to fully appreciate what is before you. It is also very important to me that the pictures appear to be displayed in a random and haphazard fashion , much like the plants they represent would grow in nature.

I am very happy with the final results. As I tend to work right up to any deadline, I only had an idea of how this would all look in practice in my head. But this has exceeded my expectations and I feel that what I have created is even better. I feel that the last minute switch to two walls instead of four helps my work appear flowing and incites movement. When I first finished the frame, It was much larger than I expected and without the boxes and drawers to soften it , looked rather scary and like an instrument of torture! But  the contrast it provides to my ceramic work, is stark, making the ceramic edges appear softer and the glazes more delicate. The larger shape allows you to view the drawers more effectively and encourages more interaction and contact with the piece.

Throughout this year I have struggled at times to move away from the figure and figurative work. But I feel that I have finally succeeded in creating an original work, that is abstract but yet contains figurative aspects. I feel rather proud of the piece I have created.

Arm Branch

I have hung my arm branch and feel that it creates the perfect amount of tension, with the issues it raises with balance and delicacy.

The screw onto which the silk scarf clings has to bear the weight of the arm. If this screw were to slip everything would come crashing to the ground. But we do not only rely on this screw but also on the integrity of my knots! The silk rope holds fiercely onto the arm, but shiny glaze on soft,slippery silk ,is possibly a disaster waiting to happen. The silk is tightly wrapped around the arm, almost bandage like, trying with all its might to hold on. The knots fight against gravity and the weight of the arm pulling it downwards. Which will be stronger, my knot tying skills or the strength with which the arm wants to cascade and smash onto  the floor?  Well let me tell you now, I have never been the best at tying knots…….!

I want viewers to feel this anxiety and tension as well as admiring the ceramic arm itself. The arm branch displays our undeniable connection with nature. We are not separate from it but are part of it. It also shows the delicate and fragile state of this relationship and how easily it can be destroyed. This fragile state is emphasised by the hazardous method of display, emphasising that this relationship requires equilibrium and balance and is currently hanging by a thread.

Frame is Finished

Today I finished assembling my frame and got a chance to see my ceramic work on it. As you can see in this image I have stacked the boxes and drawers onto the frame creating the spiralling shape I intended (although the top box is not yet in position in this photo). I am really happy with the shapes that are created by the use of the frame, which is angular, yet gently curving upwards. I was as previously mentioned, a little disappointed with the look of the frame when it became apparent that it was going to end up a lot larger (on the bottom) than my origional plans. But looking at the piece all togther now, I feel that it works aesthetically by contrasting favourably with the ceramics. When fully assembled, the piece is interactive on all sides, either having drawers to open or the maginfying glass on the back. I was very pleased with the end result of the magnifying glass. I have made a hook for it and screwed this into place. I feel that the positioning of the whole piece fully displays the natural materials, (clay and wood), which have been fashioned by man or in this case woman, combining the themes of nature and our attempts to bend it to our will.

Now all I need to do tomorrow is fully assemble the piece and make some final adjustments.

Slippery Sides 

I found that the sound, feeling and friction caused when opening and closing the drawers was quite unpleasant and was detering people from interacting with my work. I decided therefore to do something about it. My simple solution was to glue some acetate onto the bottom of the draweres and the bottom of the boxes to enable the movement to be smoother. With less friction, the drawers are able to run smoothly and with no horrible accompanying sound. People now seem far happier to interact with the work, allowing them to see what is hidden inside.


So I have moved forwards with the frame idea. I located 14 different frames from local charity shops,varying in size and shape, collected found/ready made mounts and had to recreate my previous paintings, to suit these frames. I have tried to include multiple plants in as many of these paintings as possible as this was something people liked in my gap crit. Some of the frames are so small however that I have only been able to include one flower study in them. I have also added annotations to each painting, such as the time of year and location,to make them more personal and give them more of a botanical study feel about them. Above is an image of me planning the composition for how they will be hung on the wall. This structure has developed from drawing plans and from talks with peers and tutors. I wanted to use a cluster style plan as it would display the randomness of nature as well as displaying the images at a lower height than usual, to pull viewers in closer, to really observe the plants. As well as the cluster style, I wanted to ensure that the frames spanned most on the length of the wall, to provide sufficient interest and impact.

Frame Progression 

Today I managed to move my frame forward, slowly building the seat up from the ground. I am very happy with the way it is progressing. My only slight concern is how large it is becoming as I had origionally invisioned that it would fit closely and be tucked into, the boxes. I felt that part of the aesthetic problem was due to the voluptuous shape of the chair and promptly sawed off excess wood and sanded down sharp corners, making me feel much happier. The only remaining issue now is all these worm -like holes in the wood from the nails. I am happy to have a few nails as I feel that they are in keeping with the found materials look and emphasise the idea of the wood being bent to mans’ design and will. I feel that the holes though are not so aesthetically pleasing and at least some if not all need to go. Whilst talking to one of my peers about this problem, I started to wonder whether an easy solution would be to cover these areas of the wood in gold leaf. This could cover holes and make the frame in keeping with the boxes. I will consider this option for a while (and also consider the cost implications). But at the end of the day it is not the end of the world if there are a few holes as this is reclaimed wood and contributes well, maybe even better, to my themes in this state of disrepair.