Souvenirs from Medalta

Just a short post this month. Here are a few shots of the last few pieces from this series, in various stages of making.





These are coil built, and have layers of slips, and impressed marks and textures. Once these are finished, with glazes, decals and lustres, I’ll be starting some new drawings and test pieces.

I’ve also been working on my new website, which will be going live soon.


Souvenirs from Medalta

A few  more quick shots of recent pieces in progress in the series exploring themes of travel and memory, and referencing my residency in Canada last year. The last lot of work were a group of small plates. These were intentionally made quite quickly with a slightly less ‘finished’ feel, and allowing for movement to happen during firing and drying. Slabs were cut out freehand and textured, with some having marks cut right through the form.

Although on occasion I have debated whether or not to still make plates as they are so ubiquitous, I have since decided that this is actually part of their appeal and that its still possible to create something personal and hopefully unique.





Now that the studio will be less busy, I plan to make more work than in recent months. And also intend to make a new website…! Some of these pieces are currently in an exhibition in the And Collective Gallery in Bridge of Allan


Alberta project #2…update

Mid March already…! As the studio has taken up quite a lot of time the pieces in progress have been evolving more slowly than I’d like. But have a few finished pieces to date as part of my project reflecting on a trip to Canada last year. Which as yet is untitled….

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The forms as previously mentioned are based on some of the vessels in the collection and museum at Medalta. Alberta, Canada. This highly significant (and vast!) collection offers a snap shot of Alberta history, cultural change and a sense of place. They range from highly utilitarian items, to ornate vases, souvenirs and hotel ware.  For me they were a perfect starting point to reference, and a great vehicle to reflect the place now. The imagery is from the town of Medicine Hat, the surrounding landscape, museum objects and the site itself of Medalta.

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Like much of my previous work, it draws on nostalgia, memory and place, and specifics of travel experiences. I’d like it to reflect the scale, contrasts and extremes of the area, the space and sense of ‘otherness’ (which is a big part of travel experience).

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In terms of scale, the biggest pots are around 38cm high at the moment, and there are some smaller ones around 12cm high. They are handbuilt, have layers of slip and glaze, incised and drawn lines, decals and lustre.



Alberta project #2

Have gradually been getting back up to full speed in the studio over the last couple of weeks after a (much needed!) break at Christmas. Also a lot of planning, tidying and organising going on.

I’m revisiting the work I did in the summer in Canada and using some of the source material gathered. The main focus on this visit was the residency at Medalta- the Shaw Centre for Contemporary Ceramics which I blogged about previously. I’ve made work about Alberta before on previous trips- as partner Chris is from there originally we try to go across every few years. As a British visitor, its often familiar but simultaneously ‘foreign’. Its this aspect of travel that I find inspiring- being somewhere that is ‘away’ rather than ‘home’ feeds into my creative process in a big way. And a theme that I returned to several times.




This new project will look at the memory of travel experiences & landscape/cityscape, and how they can be revisited through visual material. There will of course be one or two taxidermy images featured!

I want this new work to have a more textured surface, so have started with some flat test pieces carrying out some initial experiments with the surface (below). Further imagery will be added later through decals which are being printed.

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Forms are based initially on some of the forms in the Medalta collection of locally made ceramics.

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Once I have some of the pieces fired, and have applied some decals to the test pieces, will post up some more images.

Animal/Object series..finished pieces

The project I’ve been working on over the last few months, in between my trip to Canada, is all finished…a few images below.

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Some of these will be exhibited in Contemporary Applied Arts in London, and some in the ‘Selected’ show in the Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh.

I’ll be adding some more images and text soon!

This project was kindly supported by the Craft Maker Award Scheme run by Creative Edinburgh and Edinburgh Council.

Black statutory (2)Print


In progress – ‘Animal/Object’ series

Have been working on new pieces for a show at the Dovecot in Edinburgh, over the last few weeks.  Continuing with my project looking at taxidermy collections in Dundee and St Andrews, I’ve been working on a series of jars.

Here are a few snapshots of the work at different stages…

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As with previous work, there’s multiple layers with imagery and colour applied at different stages. Although I normally handbuild work, I’ve been experimenting with some press moulded and cast pieces so I can create repeated forms.

I’m putting some text together about the work, but essentially it is about commemoration, nostalgia and the act of collecting and displaying animals and objects. The forms referenced (Victorian meat paste jars & tobacco jars) not only used to contain products but were a canvas for pictorial displays and cultural references at the time.

More to follow! Will be revisiting the plate next…



Medalta residency – final pieces

A fantastic experience being at Medalta over recent weeks- creative and inspiring! Now back at home, catching up with things at the studio and readjusting to the rather colder Scottish climate…

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Here are a few images of the finished pieces…much more loosely made than usual, with alterations to form and surface. The smaller ones are almost like sketches; I’ve been focusing on creating less ‘finished’ looking objects rather than over refining. Utilising the moulds from Hycroft led to using fragments rather than full objects, such as the inscribed letters/numbers on the outsides of the moulds, and the head of a donkey ornament. Along with the photographs I took, the intention is to create a direct connection with the place, its history and the landscape.



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Its a great experience creatively to take part in a residency- it shakes you out of your comfort zone, exposes you to new people, contexts and materials and gives fresh outlook on things. The opportunity to spend a solid block of time making work is invaluable. And for me in past residencies it has been the starting point for new projects. This will certainly be the case this time. I’ll initially be revisiting the museums project I was working on prior to the trip  to make pieces for an exhibition. Then I’ll come back to the research and work created at Medalta to start a new body of work later in the autumn.

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Check out some of the talented artists that were there also- here’s one or two links… (Aaron and Noriko also work at Medalta)

Many thanks to Creative Scotland for their financial support, and to the lovely people at Medalta for making it a great project!



Residency continues

A quick update on work in progress at Medalta…





First few plates are fired and glazed, now ready for the decals which have been printed here at Medalta. I’m utilising as much as possible from the location itself, including the clay which is processed locally, sections of the moulds from Hycroft China, and imagery from the area.

Partner Chris  Donnelly is here too- working on the wheel.


Last week next week! So lots to do in the time, including a few more finishing touches to pieces tomorrow, then firing, glazing and decal application.



Residency at Medalta, Alberta

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I’m currently artist in residence at Medalta, Medicine Hat in western Canada along with partner Chris. Its a fantastic facility for all sorts of ceramic activities; including international/national visiting artists, courses and a museum. Not to mention a (now closed) brick factory and Hycroft China, both part of the site. Some lovely folk here who have made us welcome; fellow residents both short and long term, and the staff all with a great enthusiasm for ceramics and the centre itself.

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A few days into our residency and we have some pieces fired, and some other work-in-progress underway. With any change of location, raw materials and kiln there is generally some technical testing needed to make sure everything works (not to mention adjusting to somewhat different temperatures to the UK – around 35C most of this week :)) but all seem ok so far! 

For me the draw of a residency is being out of your comfort zone, and approaching the work with an experimental angle rather than trying to repeat what you in the studio at home. Its a relatively short residency of three weeks, so a fairly concentrated project is underway that should hopefully feed into a longer project on return. 



I’m utilising the area and in particular the site itself as starting point for ideas. So it will reflect tourism, travel, redundant industry, commemorative ware and the experience of being immersed in the location. Going great so far- a very inspiring place to work…







Museums & taxidermy project

A quick update on my current project…I’ve made a couple of trips to the Bell Pettigrew Museum in St. Andrews, Fife to draw and take photos. An amazing collection… Would recommend a visit if you can!



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The project is developing quite slowly as the studio has been very busy, but this week have been able to revisit the sketchbook and start some test pieces.





Not long before I’ll be artist in residence at Medalta, Alberta…but for the time being will get the test pieces underway- both form and surface.  These will evolve from the drawings, and are likely to incorporate printing, painting and texture. The colour palette is likely to be quite monochrome. Will then revisit the project on return.