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Claudette Forbes
London, UK

"My work draws on my life experience as a child of Jamaican parents, growing up in inner city Bristol. I create ceramic art that is provocative, subversive, playful and humorous. I want to test interpretations of the present day, whilst producing tangible objects that contain a certain beauty and references a past."



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'Cow on Cow's Tongue', Slip-cast stoneware with decals, H. 13 x w. 23 cm

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What first drew you to slip-casting?

C: I’m actually a thrower and make tableware on the potter’s wheel. However, after a few years doing this as a hobby, and at a friend’s suggestion, I decided to take things further. I enrolled on the Art Design & Ceramics HND course at Morley College, graduating in 2020. I wanted to learn all the ceramic making techniques, particularly slip casting. All my pieces in this exhibition are slip cast. I actually made a mould of a real cow’s tongue (bought in a local butcher) to make the base upon which the willow patterned cow stands. I also made a mould of a cow I’d sculpted. A glass milk bottle was used for the plaster mould for the ceramic bottles.

What are your biggest influences?

C: I was born and grew up in inner city Bristol, England, and now live in an inner city area of London. Not only did this inspire my first career choice of city development, but it now inspires my ceramics. I live in Peckham, South London, which is a vibrant, multi-cultural area and I never cease to be inspired by this place. The illustrations on my bottles are of local people or scenes. I draw them from photographs that I take. There’s a back story to each drawing. For example, ‘The Barclay’s Queue’ struck me first because of the diversity of the queue, but also because there is always a long queue outside the Barclay’s Bank on Rye Lane. What is that about? Anyone local who sees that illustration on the bottle immediately exclaims ‘I know!’.

The other influence is my Jamaican heritage. The cow was inspired by a family trip to Jamaica more than 20 years ago. The first McDonald’s had opened near Montego Bay. In a neighbouring field stood a solitary cow. The comedy of this was not lost on us and we shouted to the cow to run for its life.

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Can you tell us more about the work in our Winter Exhibition?


C: The seated cow’s base is modelled directly from a real cow’s tongue, purchased from a local butcher. Handling a cow’s tongue to make its mould was grotesque to me, a meat eater. This highlights contradictions in our everyday choices.

The ceramic milk bottles are adorned with my illustrations – a contemporary twist on the Willow Pattern - depicting scenes and people in my neighbourhood.

Available Work

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