Paula Downing | '...maintaining the essence of the Cornish landscape.'

Paula Downing

'My childhood dream………… to be a potter with an open workshop on a quay or harbourside'

Paula Downing

'This idea became implanted in my brain from about the age of eight as a result of a family holiday in Cornwall. It might have been Polperro, Looe or even St. Ives.


I distinctly remember seeing a young man and his partner doing just that. I was mesmerized.

A romantic idea but it has stayed with me all these years and this is the closest I have ever got to it.'



Kenneth Drake was my Ceramics Tutor who persuaded the powers that be, to let me follow a combined Fine Art and Ceramics course. I shall be eternally grateful to him as it helped steer the way I work.

'I first experienced the feel of clay at Junior School, aged eight, but there was no kiln and so my dried pinched ashtray had to be painted with powder paints and then varnished! Quite disgusting, but I was so proud of it and of course, I had been bitten by the bug.

However, Ceramics was not an option for me until I went to college. Having studied drawing, painting and Art History as well as all the other subjects through school, I first opted to follow that path at College. Kenneth Drake was my Ceramics Tutor who persuaded the powers that be, to let me follow a combined Fine Art and Ceramics course. I shall be eternally grateful to him as it helped steer the way I work.


My career has been in teaching Fine Art and Ceramics, although I have always managed to pursue my own work. 

Paula Downing

The year 2000 we moved to Cornwall in order to devote more time to ceramics.

We lived on the edge of the moor between St.Ives and Zennor and this land/seascape, coastline profiles, ancient heritage, and mining history have been a never-ending source of inspiration for my work.'

Paula Downing | "A Little Bit Of Loose In The Stope"

Process

Paula Downing | Small Vessel
Each is unique, although they are part of a series as I follow a thread of an idea.

'My ideas begin with the physical exploration and observation of the land/sea, moorland and all that it has to offer. The work evolves from the drawings, paintings, photographs made on-site. Back in the Studio, the collected information is put away and I work intuitively from what remains in my memory. I never copy what I have drawn and I never draw what I am about to make.

Every piece is hand built and the forms mainly sculptural. Each is unique, although they are part of a series as I follow a thread of an idea.

I work with many different clays, mainly heavily grogged and textured. I then complete the pieces by layering oxides and slips onto the surface.'

Development

Many of the pieces, because they have connections to rocks and mining are named using mining terms and vocabulary which was used to map underground features.

'Over the years I have experimented with the various hand building techniques, challenging size, serious angles, balance, points of contact, surface texture.

Just recently, I have been interested in combining very different types of clay in the same piece giving a variety of colour and texture.

Many of the pieces, because they have connections to rocks and mining are named using mining terms and vocabulary which was used to map underground features. 

Killas is the name of the shale that came out of the Wheal Jane Mine.
Wheal Jane is not far from where I live. It closed about 20 years ago. The shale is orange and red, and when the mine closed and subsequently flooded, the local river (ironically called ‘red river’) literally ran bright red!


A Little Bit of Loose in the Stope  A mining term. 
A Stope is a cavity between two solid walls of granite. A mining surveyor would determine the two walls. The miners would then remove the shale between the walls creating the cavity called the Stope. On walking into such a fissure or space and looking up, the large boulders hanging over your head, wedged between the walls, would be called by the minors ‘a little bit of loose’.'

Paula Downing | Open Bowl Form

The work moves on 

...maintaining the essence of the Cornish landscape.

'This landscape is powerful and moody, hopefully, my work is a direct, honest and respectful response to the world that remains unchanged by modern humankind.

Now I think it could be time to choose from the forms I have enjoyed making and explore a more simple approach whilst maintaining the essence of the Cornish landscape.' Paula Downing 2018

Comments

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