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Three Clays I


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Emma Bell’s ceramic and porcelain Pot Frame – Installation Piece

H: 73 x W: 73 x D: 7 cm

Emma Bell says: “This piece is inspired by my glaze test vessels. As a potter, I am always staggered by how different the same/similar glaze turns out on different clay bodies when it has been fired.”

“In this piece there are 3 clays which I used (white stoneware clay, grogged red stoneware and porcelain). I used 3 very slightly different white glazes on each of the 46 vessels in the piece using a different technique on each vessel – sometimes dipping the piece quickly, sometimes slowly, double dipping, single dipping and dipping at different angles and some mixing one glaze over another. All this process was done spontaneously and I made many more vessels than I needed – always using just 3 clays and 3 glazes, all fired to stoneware temperatures (1260). When I had collated all the fired pieces, the process of selecting and assembling them in an order began.

“First I did this out of frame and then when I was happy with it, I put them into the frame but even then, if a group looked good together on the table, it did not necessarily look good with all the other groups within the frame (10 groups in total). So lots of adjustment and consideration to variations of colour and height of vessels. Lots of editing and revisiting needed to be done to achieve the final result. It is like putting in a code which isn’t quite right and you only know that it is right when you go back again and again and every time you revisit it you are pleased with the result.”

Size: H:73 cm x W:73 cm

Emma Bell studied ceramics at the University College of Ripon & York St John and graduated with a first class honours degree. After the intervening years in which she raised her children, she has now returned to the studio. She is a wheel-based potter, working mainly in stoneware and porcelain. Her present work is defined by simplicity and purity of form and possesses an organic quality which creates a sense of quietness and calm. The search is for symmetry and balance in design, whilst at the same time quietly pushing to the limits the possibilities of the material. In the process a tension is created between the two – the desired shape of the piece and the fineness and fragility of the clay. It is not unusual for Bell's to work at the wheel with her eyes closed, relying on touch alone to know instinctively when the optimum point has been reached. There is a constant interaction of sight and touch, the visual and the tactile. In her bottle series, the design is often extended and elongated beyond the point which can reasonably be sustained by the clay without distortion or collapse- it is at this point that the piece will be completed by hand. It is all about gently advancing balance and boundaries and exploring the techniques which will take the piece to reach its full potential. Emma Bell’s present work is first and foremost about strong form. She uses soft, matt glazes with minimal decoration. There is nothing which can distract the eye from the clean, quiet lines which characterize her work. To discuss any of Emma Bell's artworks, please contact or call 01869 338155 / 07799 535765.

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