Archives for the month of: March, 2011

It has been an interesting few days.

Today I was flying something of a fantasy to myself about how you might explain the appeal of sprig moulds in ceramics to children. I was inventing a whole series of connections around the idea of one of my moulds of a custard cream that appear on my plates.

I decided that the main things are the transformational possibilities of casting things into clay, the possibility of making patterns and the return of things in the work, like 3D printing.
And I was thinking of the transformational aspects, the transforming of a biscuit into a memorial of itself, of the clay biscuit lasting into the future far longer than any biscuit could, transmogrified by art. Of people looking at this clay biscuit in many years to come and speculating on the exact nature of the object, long since mouldered into mush.

And so on. When I got to school I was working on a tester plate on a plastic picnic plate that I could use with the kids as a mould and I tried out a biscuit sprig mould. This time I painted some black slip into the mould and then pressed the red clay in. It came out as black biscuit, both comic and sad and an instant little memorial that I stuck on the plate.

Had I preloaded my unconscious to do that by my flight of fancy over a mortal biscuit? I hadn’t really planned it that way directly. It just came out like that. When I looked at the biscuit on the plate looking like a tiny monument to biscuits I remembered what I had been thinking about on the way in. Very odd thing.

In the end the children I didn’t need much of an explanation. I made three moulds in front of year seven this morning and an audience of my technician who had rolled out the clay, David who collects Lowestoft Porcelain and helps me out, Carlos and the deputy head who had dropped in on another matter. I took a cast off an old camera someone had given me, a made sprig and tried to make a plate mould off a plate from Oxfam. I talked to the children about what they might make a sprig of for their commemorative plates.

Carefully made ceramic plate with sprigs and slip.

When the going gets tough the tough make a plate.

After the show at NUCA last week of twelve of my plates I have been working on the next set. This one has come together over the past couple of days and deploys my fruit gum sprig moulds. I have had the idea floating about in my head for a while to use these moulds to make a border but I hadn’t got so far as to imagine the central image. I worked on the robot figures and the fruit gums last night after school and I put down a layer of black slip and left it to gently dry over night. This morning I put on two layers of white slip and started to draw an image based on a sketchbook drawing, engraving into the damp slip.

I elaborated the simple sketch into something much more complex during the course of the day, working on it during lunchtime and whilst the year sevens were quietly getting on.

At the end of the day a lad came over and started to watch me at work on the plate as I was finishing off the border area. ‘Just watching’ he said. Which was fine. After a while a couple of girls came over and I had a little crowd gather.

‘Who is it supposed to be?’ asked the lad.

‘It’s Mr Cope. You can tell.’ said a girl.

‘But he hasn’t got a beard.’

‘It’s him when he was younger.’ she said.

‘What’s that rectangle round him?’

‘He’s looking into a mirror and seeing himself as he was when he was younger, isn’t he? And the sweets and the toys are because it’s about when he was young.’ explains the girl. I am obviously very pleased about this exchange as one pupil explains my work to another.

The drawing is based on a recollection of a drawing I was always sentimentally attached to. It was a self portrait in a vest that I drew when I was about fourteen. It was the first thing I remember doing when the drawing looked back at me with a certain amount of style and the start of the Cope line. It was expressive, as I remember and the first drawing that I did that was.

I lost it of course. God knows where it went. Out with my Action Man and Lego bricks I should think. But my question here is have I lost it? When I can recreate a memory of it on a plate. Can you lose anything that is in your head?

Even if you want to.

An interesting day.