FIONA THOMPSON CERAMICS
I focus mainly on the handbuilt ceramic vessel, with multiple layered surfaces. They combine traditional and contemporary processes. They are first built by hand, then painted and printed with coloured slips; some have incised lines. They are glazed with a variety of glazes, and have decals applied- these are made from my drawings and photographs. I make work in series exploring particular themes. I often focus on one form at a time and explore variations within it; usually a very familiar and everyday object or vessel. I aim to create work that encourages the viewer to think and interpret in their own way, and that quietly challenges many assumptions about ceramics. Part of my practice now includes writing for publication; this feeds into the practical work and vice versa.
Recent series of work explore natural history collections including the D’Arcy Thompson Museum in Dundee. Stuffed animal displays have potential for multiple interpretations; their presence is complex, concealing many issues and cultural references. It is precisely this ambivalence that is of interest and that gives them as a subject matter much potential for creative interpretation. The pieces commemorate animals transformed and elevated into the status of museum objects.
Current work is based on a residency in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, and previous research into travel and tourism. Like much of my previous work, it draws on nostalgia, memory and place, and specifics of travel experiences. Forms are based on the museum collections of ceramics at Medalta where I undertook the residency. The imagery is developed from my own photographs from the town and wider area, with abstracted textures, colour and marks responding to the urban and rural landscapes. I intend the work to reflect the scale, contrasts and extremes of the area, the space and sense of ‘otherness’ (which is a big part of travel experience).
This work is a response to some of my favorite Japanese Kakiemon and Nabeshima porcelain. Both styles are characterised by bold polychrome enamel overglaze decoration and made from the 17th Century. Most of the pieces have a lot of intricate decoration. It was produced primarily for the domestic market, as opposed to Imari ware that was excusively for export.
When I was growing up in Calgary Canada, I had a very different impression of Japan than after I went to art school. I had no idea about their auspicious object, zen, tea, spacial awareness, or just how different Japanese culture was from my own. These things permeated my upbringing through the icons of pop culture in the 1980’s, martial arts movies and video games.
This cup is made from a vitrified white porcelaneous stoneware. It is very hard and durable, but it is fragile as is ceramics.
It is made using a process called jollying. It is an old method of manufacturing that may be best described as mechanical throwing. A plaster mould is spun, clay is forced into it with a template on an arm that both cuts the inside profile of the pot, and squishes the excess out.