Paul Wearing won a funding award and is currently exhibiting at The Albany Gallery, Cardiff
Our Directory Maker of the Week is Paul Wearing Ceramics who recently won a funding award from Arts Council Wales and is exhibiting a twenty-one piece body of work at The Albany Gallery, Cardiff until 2 July. Paul talks to us about his work, his inspirations and his favourite part of the making process.
Who or what got you into making?
I started with clay early in primary school, making a hand-built and press-moulded house. Before and after this I was always to be found with an empty washing up liquid bottle or discarded box, paper, scissors, glue and crayons making what ever came to my mind. I attended a ceramics evening class in my late teens but it wasn’t until I was thirty that I returned to clay in a serious manner undertaking a BA HONS and later an MA at Cardiff.
Could you please tell us a bit about your work?
I engage with the relationship between nature and culture through the glazed surface and form of coil-built vessels. The vessel is a great symbol of civilisation and echoes the man-made and structural environment in which we live. In contrast to this, naturally occurring textures found within urban and rural environments perpetually interact and alter this order. Surfaces have undergone energetic change and transformation through forces of growth and decay, and it is these events, these moments which for me affirm life. Such textures can be rendered through volatile and blistering glazes. The tension between the man-made form and natural [glaze] phenomena in my work, brings into focus the nature of our materiality, energy and fragility.
The vessels are formed by press-moulding the base and coiling the walls; a slower technique allowing me constant flexibility and control. Textures revealing the making process remain as a ground for the glazing.
My treatment of the glazed surface renders evidence of brush marks and chemical reactions. Glazing is a lively activity and the surface is transformed through the accumulated layers of slips and glazes. In places, layer upon layer can simultaneously build and crumble, in others, the glaze is barely present, leaving just a trace. The process begins to reveal its own language, determined in part, by chance. Once applied, the materials are set to react within the conditions of the oxidised firing process reaching around 1230 degrees centigrade. I repeat the glazing and firing processes until the optimum depth and complexity of surface appears.
What are your inspirations?
Nature is my main inspiration, whether that’s a city gutter, volcanic lava field or a piece of lichen on a tree. The making process and the clay and glaze materials I use are as inspiring as the environment around me. I think of each piece as an experiment and each time I open the kiln I attempt to rid myself of expectations as there are always unexpected occurrences with the work that need to reveal themselves and their nature. Makers and artists who inspire me are amongst others Jennifer Lee, Emmanuel Cooper, Kurt Jackson, Anselm Kiefer and Turner. Each has a sensitivity to nature and materials.
What is your favourite part of the making process?
I enjoy it all and because there are quite a few parts to the process from staring at crumbling surfaces for inspiration to extruding the coils and press-moulding and coiling the forms, followed by applying the slips and glazes by brush to the fired surface, I never get bored. At each stage their is something new to pay attention to and to learn from and the slightest change can signal the next development in my work.
What are you working on right now?
I am in the midst of a very busy time. I have just sent a collection off to Junction Art Gallery in Oxfordshire for their summer show, 3rd June to 30th July. I will be exhibiting a twenty-one piece body of work at The Albany Gallery in Cardiff with acclaimed painter Chris Prout from 9th June to 2nd July. The Arts Council of Wales awarded me a grant to support the making of work for this show and another in August at Contemporary Ceramics Centre, London - ‘Tangibles’ will see my work exhibited alongside Martin Pearce and Rachel Wood. Back in June I am exhibiting at Contemporary Craft Festival, Bovey Tracey 9th -11th and another festival favourite is Earth and Fire International Ceramics Festival, this year in its new location at The Harley Gallery, 23rd - 25th June. Closer to home is Fireworks Clay Studios, where I am based in Cardiff, which will be holding its annual Open Studios event on June 17th. The year continues similarly with various exhibitions and festivals and people can track my whereabouts on my website www.paulwearingceramics.com or on my Paul Wearing Ceramics Facebook and Instagram pages or on Twitter: @PaulWearingClay.