I make small ceramic sculptures which combine opposites of form, texture and colour as metaphors for perfection and control versus imperfection and chaos. Through my work I explore the contemporary obsession with seeking control and perfection in all aspects of our lives. I’m interested in the tendency, prevalent on social media, of masking the chaos and messiness of real life through the presentation of curated and carefully managed idealised identities, which generally only highlight success or positive news. My sculptures use physical metaphors to set this obsession in opposition to the chaotic and imperfect nature of daily life.
Clay can be a precise or messy material when worked in different ways, using different processes and degrees of control. Glazes have a soft ‘organic’ quality as opposed to the harsher, ‘manufactured’ appearance of vivid acrylic. For me, these opposing characteristics are interesting when dynamically combined in the same object.
In my sculptures brightly coloured, neat acrylic surfaces contrast with dark, rough, messy, uncontrolled, collapsed or flowing sections. Oppositions are achieved through the careful construction and refining of some parts, and the loose, free making of others, enabling me to explore my themes in a performative way. Sources of inspiration include the work of other makers, both historical and contemporary – especially those working with clay – and observations of the chaotic or uncontrolled at odds with the human desire for control and perfection – in nature, in the wider physical world and built environments, in my life and in world events. In the context of Covid 19, I have been making pieces which twist and writhe, as an expression of the anxiety and discomfort of recent times.
Writing and drawing are integral to my practice. New ideas are explored in particular through drawing and collage, in a process of call and response with making.
My sculptures are intended to be unsettling in their form and in their display, at times spilling over the plinth. Small in scale (max 30cm in any dimension), some of them seem to imply an obscure function. Exhibited in small groups, they create an environment of discomforting objects.
My pieces are hand-built or thrown and altered from white earthenware clay. They are biscuit-fired to 1100 degrees in an electric kiln. Muted earthenware glazes, coloured with oxides or commercial stains, are applied by pouring or spraying and the pieces are fired again, to 1080 degrees. Vivid acrylic colours are applied at the final stage of making.
All ceramic work, text and site pages © Jane King