Ruth Elizabeth Jones
Dumfriesshire, Scotland, UK
"I make clay vessels, coil-building with meditative focus. My intention is that some of that meditative focus is retained within my statement pieces as clay, air, fire, and water combine."
"My larger works are made by the ancient method of coil building: rolling out bands of clay and joining them to form the vessel. I then carefully scrape and refine to create textured surfaces. The mark making is deliberate, creating movement and a texture which smoke, and light will enhance."
"My work draws on forms and culture from world ceramics as far back as the neolithic: pottery made in matriarchal societies, used for food and ritual practices. I also reference the classic Korean moon jar form."
"I have had an affinity with clay since childhood: from first touch at high school, I found my vocation. After studying 3D Design and Studio Ceramics in the Midlands, I established studios in Derby and then relocated to Scotland where I now work from my studio in rural Dumfriesshire."
'Black Floating Jar', Black clay, smoke-fired, H. 27.5 cm, by Ruth Elizabeth Jones
When did you begin your latest series and how has it developed?
R: After admiring a traditional 17th Century wheel-thrown Korean moon jar at the British Museum – which had been in Lucie Rie’s studio – I turned my attention to spherical jars in 2019. Exploring the spherical form and working with symmetry requires concentration and focus.
Hand, heart and clay come together as I consciously shape to refine the form and make the marks which create the finished surface. My intention is that some of the meditative focus of the making is retained within the work. People will react to it in their own way of course, but the viewer may feel a sense of serenity and would be justified in feeling some connection to our ancestral past. I have developed the forms with my signature small foot detail to create lightness and a sense of floating.
Can you tell us more about the work featured in our Winter Exhibition?
R: I am presenting a Black Floating Jar. The vessel is hand-built using the ancient coiling method where clay is rolled out and joined together, gradually building up the walls. These jars are given a smoke firing in a metal bin where wood shavings can leave striking or subtle signs of the combustion process. The surfaces are highly responsive to variations in lighting and moving around the vessel reveals something new and unique, keeping the work alive with every turn and with every change in the light.
How important is the material itself to your work?
R: The type of clay I choose for any piece will have a huge impact on the attitude of the final work. Allowing a significant amount of time to refine and perfect the surface and form enables me to fully exploit the properties of the clay I'm using. The Black Floating Jars are made with a lightly textured black clay – these pieces are low fired, and so they are not suitable for holding water.