WILLIAM DE MORGAN TILES

Hi Everybody,

I find it so interesting that all artists, painters, sculptors, potters and writers are influenced by what has gone before. Often this may be sub-conscious and they may not even realise they are being influenced. You may just see something that gives you an idea or effects your work in an important way. What you see or even hear may not be anything directly associated with the line of work you’re doing, such as pottery. So it was with one of my ceramics students, who just came back from a trip to Paris to see the Constantin Brancusi Exhibition of Sculpture and was very influenced by the work.

Brancusi is a very famous contemporary sculptor (1876 – 1957) and is considered one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th century. Brancusi’s work is primarily in stone and my student decided to do a version of the famous stone carving of the The Kiss. Now, the big difference between stone and clay is that with stone you take material away and with clay you tend to add material. And, of course, Brancusi would have started with a block of stone to carve, and we started with a bag of clay. Essentially this sculpture is a cube with stylised details carved out of it.

To make a large clay cube that would not collapse in on itself we constructed a clay scaffold or armature out of clay slabs to support the interior of the cube. Raku clay was used, because it is a firmer clay and therefore better for large scale constructions. The slabs we made to support the inside of the box were dried out using a hairdryer, before building the armature. This system of clay construction works very well for larger pieces of work.

It is interesting to note that Brancusi himself was influenced by African art and artists such as Paul Gaugan and Pablo Picasso. So, to sum up, anything could be an influence for your pottery or ceramic sculpture. It could be something completely unrelated to the material that you are working with, but remember, don’t copy the thing that you are influenced by, do your own version of it.

Until next time, enjoy your pottery.

Barry