Since 1988 I have been working in the medium of ceramics. A two year course, in the Grennan Mill Craft School was my primary introduction to ceramics, after which I worked in production potteries, furthering my level of experience of working with clay. During this time, I learned and mastered a wide range technically in the field of ceramics.
My current artistic passion and challenge is in developing artistic work using local clay from Corca Dhuibhne. Unlike other processes in ceramics, there is no manual, no instruction book or guidelines for how to work with this unique material. Instead, I have begun the process of discovery by researching the geology of the area, the types of stone and ground underneath our feet. I am examining the geological and scientific properties of the clay, and experimenting with how this clay can be worked with, fired and glazed. I am interested in preserving the integrity and beauty of the natural material, without adding any other materials to it, or stripping it of it’s own. As a ceramic artist, it feels very natural for me to work in this way, much more natural than buying a bag of clay from another place. It is a richer experience. Each ball of clay has a story, it has already had a journey, down the riverbeds and into the cliff faces. It has been influenced by the weather, the rain, the river flow over the millenia. It is my aim to create pieces that honestly tell this story, and respectfully reflect the landscape from which it has emerged.
I am inspired by the landscape of Corca Dhuibhne that surrounds me, the elements, and the seasons. I love simplicity, the understated. I also resonate with the philosophy of Wabi-Sabi. Associated with Zen buddhism, Wabi-Sabi expresses an appreciation for the earthy, the imperfect, the unpretentious. It represents something quite opposite to the Western ideal of great beauty as something monumental and spectacular. Wabi-Sabi is found in nature as the seasons turn, leaves decay, lushness and bloom subside. This philosophy is represented in my work, in the way I purposefully leave the natural elements in the clay which may be seen by some as imperfections. To me, these are a part of the story of the clay, and are therefore both interesting and beautiful. I am not trying to force the clay into something it is not. I like it the way it is. Neither can I force the clay into shapes it is not able to hold or compliment. In this way, there is a connection between myself and the clay, we test and challenge each other.
Working with clay is a huge part of who I am. I couldn't imagine not having it in my life.