From the moment a fresh bag of clay is opened my imagination is triggered by the sensory pleasure of its smooth texture and the anticipatory thrill of potential. Working with clay is as exciting and terrifying as a roller coaster ride, presenting as many challenges as rewards. To understand this soft malleable material — really just a lump of wet earth — takes time, but with considered handling and measured judgement it can be manipulated into dynamic and expressive form.  This transformation goes through many stages as the clay is first shaped, then hardened and dried, before being finally and inexorably altered by the alchemy of firing to a new ceramic form — hard, durable and permanent.

 

It is these contrasts that inspire me, and are where I look for the balance which is at the heart of what I do. Each element of balance is a new discovery, found somewhere between knowing how far the material can be pushed and when to let the material's own dogged nature dictate the final journey. Technical expertise and experience are always challenged by each different set of influences, from pragmatic considerations to artistic instinct, and it is this space between that I am most interested in; it is where technique, material and creative insight meet. 

 

The theme of balance is a constant, significantly underlining my current work in which ideas of dynamic interplay between form and surface develop. By integrating drawing, surface mark making and volume I play with the balance of space and pattern alongside hue and texture on both the decorated and void surface areas. For me it is the balance between composition and form, absence and presence, that offers some of the most exciting opportunities for expressing my creative voice.

 

The invitation to exhibit at the British Ceramic Biennial 2013 was the perfect opportunity to take my ideas further and push the work into new territories. The significance of being selected gave me a new-found confidence that proved a catalyst for new ideas to flourish and a chance to step off the production circuit.  Whilst the cycle of making and selling has been important in terms of establishing a new audience, the work has remained domestic in scale. Developing new ideas for the Biennial has given me the chance to scale-up my work and embrace the many new challenges that change brings. With this new work I will continue using with ideas of balance but expand them, contrasting a controlled, highly skilled construction technique with the spontaneity and immediacy of creative flow, capturing and celebrating the moment of touch and making with the human hand.

 

 CERAMICS
 
 
 
Photography by Shannon Tofts

LARA SCOBIE