The Many Vesseled Women

As a painter of twenty five years I have moved to East Sussex and discovered pottery. Last year the paintings were literally starting to leave the surface of the canvas and after a short pottery course I realised, with utter delight, that so many of my paintings were actually supposed to have been pots all along! This is a baffling concept as I realised that some of the pots I make are also supposed to be paintings!

The Many Vesseled Women are literally female figurines made up of domestic vessels – traditionally hand- thrown bowls, vases. The compilations are then sketched upon, often directly from life to give it that immediate freshness of first hand insight. They have a dichotomy of traditionally produced domestic ware with a surreal decorative element. I call these 3D paintings.

Early 2017

Vessels are female. There is no doubting it in my mind. Bowls, vases, the shapes simply lend themselves to curves and rounds. Receptacles, the word describes a receiver. Both these things I have added together to give my work it's current direction.

Every year begins with quiet, starts to gather pace and the big bang firework display is Christmas! Then the quiet returns. In that quiet time my head feels the purity and out come extremes of experimentation. January became the time when I was pushing my wheel technique to throw as tall and thin as possible. These vases became the "Tall & Thin" series. I played with the opposite extreme I could muster to the previous vase I had made. Half way through the "Tall & Thin" series, which until then had been fairly abstract, the vases became dancers ("Flamenco Dancer") or entirely representative pieces.

February I really felt the urge to go back to the drawing board. I wanted the contrast to become more evident of made art and imagination to drawn from life. I discovered the most fabulous drawing group I have ever encountered, Draw Brighton (more about them later), which I booked and went to with appetite. My answer to marrying the contrasts I had set out for myself was to throw bowls, the art bit, and take them to draw and paint life models directly onto them. Some of them were stunning in their simplicity, others took on further imaginative work once home. I named this next phase "Red Feb" - red alluded to the colour of the clay I was using - terracotta for its earthy tones.


There is a body of work coming together, flirting with the idea of women as vessels. The collection of vessels so far, is of a domestic kind. Figureheads on boats become creatures in their own right that contain liquid, and pour as jugs. Receptacles are made with hand prints highlighted in copper; hand prints that receive and wrap themselves around, pushing and reshaping cups. Picasso’s ironing woman; poor emaciated and enslaved in her task, is a vase for fresh flowers! The dual existence of each piece, communicates an elemental dialogue that is present in routine and mundane circumstances.

The title “Sketches in Clay” alludes to my approach to pottery as a painter. Again, it feels as though this work in ceramics is 3D painting. Sketching is when inspiration is unleashed; even when a painting is begun, it starts with the inspired sketch. This medium of clay, is so exciting that ideas are tumbling out faster than I can make them. Each work is a sketch that has been actualised.

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