It’s been a year since finishing my MA, and I’ve been taking time – both to continue making and also to focus on what I want to do going forward. I feel the need to register as a business, but first find a way to describe myself and my story in a succinct, understandable, short way.
To help with this I’m half way through a Creative Entrepreneur short course with Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen, funded and ran in-conjunction by Look Again who are a creative unit based in the Art School. It is forcing me to look practically at what and who my clients/customers may be and at this point week 3, speak to potential clients/customers.
It seems realistic to split the practice into a commercial stream and the more conceptual work that would feed this. I am trying to think through how to distill my approach in a few words that will incapsulate what I’ve been researching and working towards for the last decade really, and before in my architectural research into sense of place and intangible aspects of what makes us form emotional connections with places.
I’m writing this to think through what seems a bit of a tangled web, until I try to analyse the two main threads / influences on who I am today, Hong Kong and Scotland. My introduction to ceramics was in Hong Kong, where I lived from 2003 until returning in 2014. I went to a little studio on a neighbouring island of Peng Chau where after a year of classes I was given my own key so the owner didn’t need to get out of bed so early to let me in. He helped me make my first mould when I decided that I didn’t want to make symmetrical, functional objects on the wheel and wanted to mould a heavily patterned melon sitting on its side. I learned to raku and to gold leaf my work.
Moving back to Scotland had been my ultimate goal as I had always been very home sick, so when I moved back I was seeing familiar places with new eyes. My aesthetic filter was different after living in Asia, and looking back on what I did in the MA I can see now that I explored my home landscape under the influence of my experiences in Asia. I’ve written much on the blog talking about what wabi-sabi and mono-non aware means and it is seeing beauty not with western, classical roots but in nature’s imperfection, weathering and impermanence. This explains in a way my pursuit of the intangible elements that make up a sense of place, or the genus loci.
I’ve explore peat as an object, a surface treatment, a post-raku firing material and the language relating to in Gaelic in visual poetry. In a museum project I chose a 150 year old passport to express the fragility and patina in a parian travel flask using screen printed ink as a surface decoration, echoing the worn ink stamped travel document. I’ve explored the intertidal zone of the River Clyde and weathered timber remains in a series of photographs, sketches and visual poems that resulted in sculpted profiles of the spaces between the timbers, bound by air and part of the time, water.
What I am trying to do now is express this as my approach, in a non academic way by giving my new business a name that communicates this fusion of Asia and Scotland, east and west, cantonese and gaelic without sounding pretentious. In a grounded way that doesnt need explaining.
This is as far as I’ve got, I’d like to keep on exploring the intangible, the spaces between, the edges, borders, patina, shadow and reflections. I’d like to express using unglazed clay, peat, seaweed and I’d like to return to using gold leaf and kintsugi and raku firing.
I like the Gaelic word for peat – moine, I would like to pair it with an Asian word but am fearing pretention. I’ll leave my thoughts here and come back to them.
I’ve came back again with my go to book out for some inspiration, Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks, here are some words that are jumping out at me
- stravaig: to wander aimlessly, unguided by outcome or destination Scots
- glisk: gleam of sunshine on water Shetland
- kast: to cut peats out of the ground and cast them onto the bank to dry Shetland
- moine: peat once its been cut and dried Gaelic
I’ll need to have a think.
stravaig studio, glisk ceramics, kast ceramics, moine ceramics
Kast & Burnt, Ceramic Studio
Cast + Burnt Ceramics
Another update 11/4/21
I think Glisk Ceramics or Glisk Studio or just Glisk