Hand built, solid, stoneware clay with body stains added
Electric kiln fired over 3 days
H. 32 x w. 7 x d. 8 cm
About Rachel Grimshaw
"My work is about the clay; its pliable, immediate qualities. Like a photograph capturing a ‘frozen moment’ this material when fired fixes forever a gesture, an impression. All my work is hand built and solid; the marks are created by impressing found objects, their origins occasionally hinted at. I cut, squeeze, pinch and hit the clay body to achieve the desired form."
"The forms allude to the built environment and to human interventions within the natural landscape but deliberately avoid explicit references. Living in the North of England, the sculptural qualities of the landscape find their way into my work. In pushing the material to its limits my wish is to explore three dimensional shapes and movement while retaining a real sense of the qualities of clay. The heavily grogged stoneware is coloured when wet using small percentages of body stains and oxide, then fired over several days in an electric kiln."
"I aim to achieve both precision and fluidity, energy and stillness in my work. How the light interacts with a piece is an important factor in their presentation. Although never having a prescribed narrative, there is a meditative quality. I value the function of contemplation my forms bring and their ability to represent the nature of silences. "
Based in her hometown of Wigan in the North of England, Rachel Grimshaw has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad. Her work is in several private and international collections, including Mino, Japan and the Foundation for Contemporary Ceramic Arts in Hungary. She is a Member of the Craft Potters Association.
Do you listen to anything as you work?
R: When preparing the clay (which takes up a lot of my time!) I listen to the radio, but when actually making the pieces I need absolute silence. Total concentration is required to be in the moment.
Do you plan each piece in advance or do they develop intuitively?
R: Making in clay is a two way process between me and the material. I cannot make a successful piece if I don’t begin with some outline idea of what I am trying to achieve. I set parameters or a single parameter; size, colour, or a particular shape / concept. But I also need to keep an open mind and the ability to see where the clay will lead me. If I impose too rigid an idea of what I am trying to make on the clay, nothing works. Equally, if I expect the clay to entirely dictate where I go with a piece, it will also not work. It is a dance between myself and the material. We collaborate.
How important is the material itself to your work?
R: Absolutely crucial. I create in clay because this is my medium and what my work is all about; my interaction with how the material behaves, without a rigid imposition by me onto the clay. (See above). It took many tests and experiments with (manufactured) clay bodies to arrive at the ‘right’ clay. Strong enough to be self-supporting but malleable enough to impress into. Its feel in my hands. Its appearance without added colour stains is also important.
Does functionality ever come into your work?
R: If, by function, you include aiding contemplation, creating an atmosphere or feeling, then this is what I hope my work can achieve. If you mean, can it have a practical function (contain liquid, store food, etc), then no; my work is resolutely abstract.
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