Black stoneware with coloured slips
H. 27 x w. 22 x d. 1 cm
About Verity Howard
Verity Howard is an artist who uses clay as a medium for drawing and monoprinting to create sculptural, slab built, ceramic forms. These works explore mystery, trigger memories, generate atmosphere and evoke a sense of place. Verity makes distinct bodies of work, taking inspiration from the landscape, history and culture surrounding her in rural Herefordshire.
These pieces are part of Verity’s ‘Sacrificial Stone Series 2’ body of work, which centres on the research of Alfred Watkins, a Herefordian naturalist from the early 1900’s. Watkins’ photographs and maps fascinate Verity, and this series title came from one of these maps. Verity was intrigued by the place name ‘Sacrificial Stone’, which to her evokes a sense of the surreal, stonelike, obscured and encaged. She has since been using clay to explore the images and feelings that she associates with these words.
Verity creates a stonelike surface on the works by applying texture and monoprinting using coloured slips. Verity evokes a feeling of these forms being obscured and encaged by layering further monoprints that reference grids and meshes. When slab building, she works intuitively, cutting up slabs of clay and collaging them together to create stonelike ceramic forms.
After graduating from Manchester School of Art in 2015, with a First-Class BA (Hons) Degree in Three Dimensional Design, Verity returned to Hereford to set up her art practice. Shortly afterwards, Verity took part in the Project Network Residency at Guldagergaard, International Ceramic Research Centre, Denmark. In 2017 Verity was selected for the Crafts Council’s Hothouse programme. Verity exhibits nationally and internationally including at Ceramic Art London 2022, Ceramic Art Andenne, Belgium (2022) and in ‘New Members 2023’ at Contemporary Ceramics, London. Verity is a Selected Member of the Craft Potters Association and her work has been featured in publications including Ceramic Review, New Ceramics and Ceramics Art and Perception.
What first drew you to ceramics?
V: When studying on the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Hereford College of Arts, 2011, I discovered a love for creating surface designs as well as making sculptural objects. I subsequently studied Three Dimensional Design at Manchester School of Art and during this time attended masterclasses in monoprinting on clay with my tutor Sharon Blakey and Professor Stephen Dixon. These masterclasses were pivotal in my decision to work in ceramics. They really opened my eyes to the amazing surfaces that could be created on clay. I then started to explore how I could combine my love of creating surface designs and sculptural forms. This led me to creating slab built ceramic sculptures with monoprinted surfaces. This was the start of my fasciation in the processes that form my creative practice today.
How does the location of your studio/home come into your work?
V: After graduating from Manchester School of Art in 2015, I returned to my home town of Hereford to set up my art practice. Herefordshire is a rural county situated on the border of England and Wales. I am inspired by the landscape, history and culture surrounding me in Herefordshire and in particular researching into Alfred Watkins. Watkins (1855-1935) was a pioneer photographer, cartographer, naturalist, inventor and author who lived and worked in Herefordshire. Watkins is widely renowned for his photographs capturing rural life and a sense of place. Also, for his visionary ideas around the theory of ‘Ley Lines’. Watkins’ theory detailed that ancient sites are connected by straight tracks and lines of sight through the landscape. He believed that these ‘Ley Lines’ are punctuated by markers such as hills, mounds and standing stones. Watkins’ photographs document these markers and he also drew maps to plot points along these ‘Ley Line’ routes. I am inspired by the mystery surrounding Watkins’ research, the atmosphere and sense of place captured in his photographs and the intriguing place names marked on his maps.
Do you plan each piece in advance or do they develop intuitively?
V: Each of my works evolves intuitively without a final piece in mind. I start each piece by creating monoprints on large slabs of clay. I then cut shapes from these clay slabs and join them together by slab building. I am guided by the patterns monoprinted onto the clay slabs. I let each piece of clay I join inform the next. I really enjoy this rhythmic and methodical part of my process and love observing my works as they evolve.
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