An exquisitely crinkled coffee cup, cast in English cream-coloured earthenware (aka creamware). It appears as if it has been gently folded into shape, like a piece of ceramic origami. The fine ridges are satisfying to the touch, and catch the light beautifully. A playful, tactile way to enjoy your morning tea or coffee.
Origami Mug is the product version of my much beloved experimental project Cardboard Ceramics , in which I shape ceramics with combustible cardboard moulds made from disposable coffee cup sleeves. I collaborated with the exceptionally talented craftsmen of Royal Stafford Ceramics (one of the oldest potteries in Stoke-on-Trent) to create this slip-cast version. Their expert mould-makers did an astounding job at capturing all the delicate papery bits of texture. An inspiring reminder of the vast wealth of unsurpassed technical skill held by our wise and noble potteries in Staffordshire - a centuries old hotspot for the most high grade and innovative ceramics manufacturing.
Origami Mug demonstrates how an experimental making process can be translated into a mass-manufactured product, while still retaining the intriguing character of the original. The irregular texture and asymmetry of the design means that it can’t be effectively produced by an automated process. It is therefore created through slip-casting - an extremely craft-centric method, which requires dedicated, knowledgeable potters to cast and finish each mug by hand.
Origami Mug is now available to purchase in my online shop
Photo credit Douglas Pullman
Textiles installation for Rubelli. Oneroom Gallery. 2019.
I was commissioned by the design journal Disegno, to create an installation for the Venetian textiles company Rubelli. Rubelli asked me to take their fabrics, and create something unusual and expressive with them. My response was Spiritus Mundi - an otherworldly, dreamlike environment, installed across three floors of east London’s Oneroom Gallery. The title is drawn from the work of poet William Butler Yeats, who used the term to describe society's collective unconscious - the mysterious, transcendental source from which all images and symbols are derived.
Rubelli’s fabrics are extremely exquisite. They seem hallowed, out of the ordinary - as if they are intended for some special ceremonial function. I researched the transformative power of ritualistic costumes from across the world, and their ability to access levels of experience not ordinarily available to the conscious mind.
I also drew inspiration from secular celebratory events, such as West Indian carnival costumes, and Chinese New Year dragons. I admired these uplifting, animated processions of elaborate outfits and wanted to capture some of their positivity and movement. I wanted to abstract the visceral feeling of life coming from these constructions - how they radiate a direct emotional warmth.
I created anthropomorphic timber structures – jumbled skeletons around which I stretched and draped the fabric like a luxurious skin. I also employed traditional upholstery techniques to further manipulate the fabric – punching eyelets into the material and pulling it into corrugated pleats, and even using a humble price-tagging gun to help tack the dramatic folds into place.
The installation provided a new creative interpretation of Rubelli’s work, while also evoking the extensive history and tradition embodied by the 200 - year old brand.
Cast Jesmonite candlesticks, which look like little volcanoes.
Their rough exteriors are like hardened igneous rock, and the orange candles evoke the molten lava within. Once ignited, they bring a hypnotic, cosy glow to any domestic setting.
I make the initial models with polyurethane foam - a sticky, fizzy material which oozes and expands like erupting magma. I then cast them into Jesmonite. The Jesmonite contains fine pieces of crushed stone, which give the candlesticks a coarse, rugged surface - like that of basalt, or pumice.
Lava Candelabra was successfully funded on Kickstarter in July 2018, as part of Quickstarter - an experimental crowdfunding initiative conceived by designer Oscar L’Hermitte.
High fired stoneware. 2017.
Monumental ceramic bowls, formed by common crisps. I make moulds out of crisps, then press stoneware clay inside them. As the clay dries, it peels away from the crisps - like a reptile shedding its skin. The crinkled, pebbly textures imprint onto the ceramic, like petrified fossils on the ocean floor.
This process - a take on traditional pottery press-moulding - harnesses the sculptural character of an ordinary foodstuff. Instead of precisely designing a plaster mould, I shape the clay with irregular pieces of baked corn and fried potato. This creates self-referential pieces of dishware; vessels made from the very things they are made for.
Corrugated ceramic tableware, formed from single-use cardboard moulds. The moulds are filled with stoneware clay, and then burned away in the kiln - creating dense, overlapping textures on the ceramics inside. The vessels bear the crumpled gesture of the cardboard, as if they are made of petrified paper.
This is: The Lost Cardboard Process. A reaction to our wasteful culture of disposable cardboard products. Thousands of coffee cup sleeves are used every day - only ever for about two minutes - before being thrown away. They are rarely recycled. Cardboard Ceramics turns these generic pieces of neglected cardboard into distinctive pieces of ceramic tableware. They are tactile, handmade, and rich with individual character - the antithesis of the mundane, expendable paper from which they are made.
A limited edition of Cardboard Ceramics coffee cups were stocked by SCP from 2017 - 2018.
Lost Wax Candlestick
Patinated bronze. 2018.
Lost Wax Candlestick is a work of meta-design: an object made from the very thing it is made for.
A package of candles is burnt down, one on top of the other, to create a mound of melted wax. This mound is then in bronze, through the lost wax casting process - whereby a wax pattern is melted in a ceramic mould, then displaced by molten metal. The lost wax from the spent candles has been reclaimed, and transformed into a functional bronze memorial to itself.
Latex, upholstery foam, pine. 2013.
An emotive, unsettling stool. The pink latex is like an organic tissue, viscerally stretched across the wooden skeleton and foam brain within. It is swallowed up by an orifice underneath - as if the whole object is eating itself in reverse.
These tables are inspired by a job I did, redoing a floor.
When I lifted up the floorboards, I saw a collection of forgotten objects; lost keys, dropped coins, rusty pipes. It was like a neglected storage space - a hidden drawer pulled open beneath my feet.
I made these old floorboards into new tables. The tops are planed and smooth, but below the trapdoors lies rough, unfinished compartments. Copper pipes segregate the space, like drawer dividers.
It evokes the childhood experience of exploring mysterious areas of a house - the uncharted worlds of basements and attics.
Toothpaste, epoxy resin on MDF.
We rarely appreciate toothpaste for its aesthetics. We only ever look at it fleetingly, for the few seconds it takes to squeeze it onto a brush and put it in our mouths.
In “Waste Paste,” the toothpaste is liberated from its intended function. It just sits there, being wasted. We are therefore free to appreciate its ornamental qualities.
Toothpaste on MDF. 2012.
The Unilever corporation commissioned me to make some brand-based art.
I composed globules of Unilever branded toothpaste into bold, graphic, advertisement-like images. These works reflect the personality, as well as the substance, of the brands from which they were made.
Ceramic vessels cast from birch bark moulds.
Birch bark is waterproof. When a birch tree dies, the bark remains strong while the wood rots inside. This amorphous mulch is formed in the shape of its bark mould.
I applied this process to ceramics, by filling birch bark moulds with clay. After firing in the kiln, only hollow columns of stoneware remain. They bear the organic texture of the bark, as if the dead tree has been cast into a stone memorial.
to be further developed..
Lost Cardboard Process
High fired stoneware. 2016.
In response to a brief set by ceramics company 1882:
"Create a series of experimental ceramic objects, which are not tableware"
I made these vessels from single-use cardboard moulds. The moulds are filled with clay, and then burnt away in the kiln. Since the moulds are disposable, they create dense, overlapping textures, whilst leaving the ceramics inside intact. They bear the rough gesture of the cardboard, as if they themselves are made of petrified paper. This is: the Lost Cardboard Technique.
They looked like newly-hatched birds.
Birch plywood, mild steel. 2015.
A stool influenced by the fragmented aesthetics of Russian Constructivism.
Glazed porcelain. 2011.
Teeth are the hardest parts of our bodies; the pieces of us that endure the longest. When we die, they are often the only means by which we can be identified; the only relics by which we can be remembered.
They are a simultaneous allegory for both resilience and transience. They are the tough tools by which we feed and sustain ourselves in life, and are also the tombstones by which our past existence is signified in death.
Each tooth is hand sculpted out of porcelain clay, and fired with different combinations of glazes in order to achieve various states of weathering and decay.