One vessel is inspired by the neighbourhood ‘Candy Lady’, a local woman who sells bargain-priced snacks to children. The only explicit nod to this role is a lollypop-like swirl – all other details are abstracted. ‘I don’t want to make a literal representation. When decorating the pot, I abstract the original painting, so it’s an abstraction of an abstraction.’ Some vessels tilt; others bear subtle quirks, indicative of an individual’s character. ‘I used to plan what these vessels would look like. Three years ago, I watched the Japanese potter Kazuya Ishida give a demo. He saw my forms, then challenged me not to plan any more. Now it’s all more instinctual.’ Corbett credits her time working alongside Ishida on the Oxford Anagama Project – firing traditional Japanese kilns in Wytham Woods – as having given a new energy to her work.
Another figure who helped shape Corbett’s making is Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, the painter whose figurative canvases will be the subject of a solo show at Tate Modern this summer. As Corbett’s MA supervisor, Yiadom-Boakye emboldened her not to give up on ceramics when she was facing burnout. ‘Lynette really encouraged me to stick with it. She also helped with how I see spaces for performances – lighting, colours – with the eye of a painter. Even just seeing how she uses colour in her painting has helped.’