Artist of the Month
1. How long have you been at the Phoenix?
Me and my three other studio mates got our space just before we graduated in 2016, so we've been here for just under three and a half years now.
2. What images keep you company in your studio space?
I have a mixture of things on the wall in my space: there are some technical drawings of initial design ideas; some architectural photos and postcards from my favourite galleries and buildings; and other magazine cuttings of inspirational photos, usually showing concrete structures and artworks. I'm slowly adding to this collection of images but alongside these I keep a lot of my tools on the wall in easy reach (especially useful when my hands are covered in clay and plaster!)
3. What drew you to clay as a medium - and how do you feel about its re-emergence among young artists in recent years?
I hadn't worked with clay much before university, and although I liked learning about hand-building and throwing early on in the course, I fell in love with slipcasting specifically because this and plaster mould making allowed me to create multiple precise forms.
I think the re-emergence of ceramics is great because now there's a few shows around to choose from, and lots of people who have tried pottery courses can appreciate the pieces on another level when they understand the process.
4. Your ceramics seem very exact. Is precision a key aspect of the way you work?
I'd say so - I think my interest in ceramics lies in the challenge of creating these sharp forms with porcelain. I like creating to-scale technical drawings followed by paper models, and think this way of working is reflected in the final pieces. Sometimes I struggle to balance this precision of form with the handmade qualities because, although I don't want the pieces to look machine made, for me the precision is what shows the skill.
5. Your work is partly inspired by architecture. What kind of architectural forms do you find especially interesting?
Most of my work is inspired by Brutalist architecture and the heavy, asymmetric forms found within this. I didn't want to replicate the look of concrete, but instead chose to work with a 1950's inspired colour palette which reflects the idealistic vision the architecture was designed upon. Design philosophies embodied in the architecture including form follows function and truth to materials are also explored, which is why the clay body is stained throughout and enhanced with a transparent glaze, and wooden element attachments are clearly shown. My favourite examples of Brutalist architecture are National Theatre for its bold forms, and the Barbican for its atmosphere.
6. What are you working on at the moment?
I'm currently working on a new bathroom range which should be ready to launch in the next couple of months. This has been a really good project to work on because there are a lot of functional considerations to think about for bathroom pieces, so I've been trying to balance these alongside creating something a bit different from what you usually see.
For more about Emma, visit her website.
See the full Artist of the Month archive here and check back next month to see who's featured!