I make small ceramic sculptures which combine opposites of form, texture and colour as metaphors for perfection and control versus imperfection and chaos. I am interested in the contemporary obsession with seeking control and perfection in all aspects of our lives, and am fascinated by the tendency, prevalent on social media, of masking the chaos of real life through the presentation of curated and carefully managed idealised identities, which generally only highlight success or positive news. I explore these ideas through the physical characteristics of my sculptures.
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 combined dynamically in the same object.
In my sculptures brightly coloured, neat acrylic surfaces contrast with dark, messy, folding, collapsing 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 built environment, 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 anxiety and fear.
Writing and drawing are integral to my work. New ideas are explored in particular through drawing, in a process of call and response with making.
My sculptures are intended to be unsettling in their form and how they are displayed, 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 work is hand-built or thrown and altered from white earthenware clay. Pieces 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