Sculpture and Ceramics
Making pots and learning about the chemistry of ceramics were passions of mine for many years. I initially studied under Mo Abdullah at Camden Arts Centre and also attended several of the many evening classes available in London in the 1980s.
At art college I became immersed in metal work; forging and welding steel.My work, at that stage was abstract. I then completed a City of Guilds welding course in London in addition to working for Capricorn Forge, a thriving metal workshop based in Hammersmith, London.
The projects illustrated here, cover a period of time when I was interested in making work that was linked to nature, both in the materials used and in the way in which the pieces fitted in to the natural environment.
My interests have often led me to work with more than one material. Additionally, when working with children, clay has always been a favourite.
Cover image copyright Nigel Noyes. nigelnoyes.co.uk
Initially, my inspiration was to make a life sized sculpture of a human figure, cast in cob. Cob is a mixture of clay, straw, sand and earth, a resilient and strong mixture, and one that has formed the structure of many traditional houses. Setting out on this project, I realised that the desire to build a whole figure was overambtitious, and began to build a clay face in relief. Once finished, I cast her in materials from particular places and experienced the erosion of her back into that place.
For the ‘FACE’ cast in cob, she was situated and cast in my garden in Stroud, Gloucestershire, and the surroundimg marigolds were grown by me . . . helped hugely by Davina Wynne Jones who started off the plants.
The initial casts were made in sand, on Weston Super Mare beach and the process of casting and disintegration was beautifully photographed by Nigel Noyes. nigelnoyes.co.uk
I then went on to cast her in snow.
I felt that I had acheived the outcome I was looking for. The pieces were cast in the materials from the earth of a specific place, either by the sea, in a wood or a garden and then, in time, disintegrated back into the earth.
An important part of the work was documenting the process through photography.
‘FACE’ cast in sand with red pigment. Weston-Super-Mare Beach. Photograph copyright, Nigel Noyes.
Taking FACE out of the fibreglass mould. Photograph, copyright Nigel Noyes.
‘FACE’ disintergrating into the Sea, Weston-Super-Mare. Photograph, copyright Nigel Noyes.
Sand cast of ‘FACE’, Weston-Super-Mare Beach. Photograph, copyright, Nigel Noyes
‘FACE’ cast in snow, Stroud, Gloucestershire. Photograph copyright Nigel Noyes.
Filling mould for sand cast of ‘FACE’, Weston-Super-Mare. Photograph copyright, Nigel Noyes
Fibreglass mould for sand casts of ‘FACE’, Weston-Super-Mare, photograph copyright, Nigel Noyes
Mixing clay, sand, straw and earth to make cob for the earth cast of ‘FACE’
The first cast of ‘FACE’ in cob.
‘FACE’ Cast in cob, with home grown marigolds. Site specific project at Bisley rd, Stroud, Glos, UK
Building beds for ‘FACE’ cast in cob Gloucestershire, UK
Planting out marigolds for ‘FACE’ cast in cob. Gloucestershire, UK
Home grown marigolds for the ‘FACE’ project, helped enormously by gardener and herbalist, Davina Wynne-Jones
Collage of the process of building and displaying Marigold ‘FACE’
The Singing Pots project can be viewed as a Singing Pots video with sound.
This project lasted for approx 4/5 years, travelling to different locations and transforming slightly in each case. The original inspiration came from a conversation between myself and musician, Susanna Bearfoot. (To see Susanna’s current project click here.) I had already made a series of tall cylindrical ceramic pots which were calling out to be developed in another aspect and my love of singing and sound, led me to Susannas expertise. We both felt excited by the idea of a collaboration between oursleves, combining the hollow tubes and prerecorded, composed sound. This would also be in a place of nature.
Fortunately, we managed to gain some funding from the Arts Council and also permission from the Nagshead Nature Reserve in the Forest of Dean to site our site specific piece there and have access for the general public.
Susanna developed and composed beautiful sound pieces, inspired by the shapes of the pots themselves, the Forest and childrens’ voices. These haunting sounds emanated from within the larger hollow pots and were triggered whenever someone walked close to them.
Part of the funding included resource for the involvement of a local Primary School, in Clearwell. We invited the children to come to the forest and experience the artpiece. We played interractive games, which involved them using their voices throughout the site, calling to each other and listening to each other. More workshops followed on in the school, led by myself and Susanna.
Singing Pots then reappeared a year later on site at the Camphill Community, Taurus Crafts, on the edge of the Forest of Dean. The sculptures were sited in their garden gallery and were designed to be played by the public, including children. There were cylindrical pots that could be played like drums and many other types of sound including Susanna’s compositions.
The varied pots that were developed as a result of this fantastic collaboration continued in other forms, culminating in an exhibition at the Chapel Gallery in Amberley, Stroud. Here, we exhibited some of the larger pieces and the composed sound made a resonant and ambient atmosphere.
The project would not have been possible without the technical expertise of sound technician Christopher Potts who designed the sound trigger mechanisms.
Hanging Sharks Teeth, these clay pieces were made to be played by gently tapping them with a hard clay hammer.
Drum pots these pots could be played by hitting them over the open hole at the top with a flat palm
Hanging Flute Pots.
Children from Clearwell School playing at the Singing Pots site
The original pots that inspired the Singing Pots project.
One of the Singing Pots situated in the Forest of Dean. When a person walked within a few feet of the pot, a hidden pad triggered and activated sound which emanated from the centre of the pot for approx a minute.
Hanging Pieces, ceramic with white slip. Designed to be gently knocked together to produce tinkly sounds.
Shaman Song, clay, wood and steel. Designed to be played by running hands around the moving ceramic pieces. In the background can be heard the Singing Pots sounds composed by Susanna Barefoot. To see the whole project with sound, go to Video of Singing Pots