Claire Seneviratne | fascinated by curvaceous shapes

Claire Seneviratne

"I’m fascinated by lovely curvaceous shapes. I love how a piece can make you feel..." 

Claire Seneviratne joins us for the November to February bi-monthly display feature.  Her smoke-fired vessels are distinctive with her use of gold lustre - a material that often succumbs to the firing process and is lost. Claire has developed a technique which retains the genuine gold lustre often with a delicate crazed surface.  

Claire Seneviratne | Fascinated by Curvaceous Shapes...

"I realised that I wanted to specialise in ceramics during my multidisciplinary design degree at Stoke-on Trent when I saw images of African women carrying beautiful round ceramic water pots on their heads. The elegance of the women and the simple symmetry of the vessels left a strong impression.

After graduating, I trained to be an art teacher as I didn’t feel ready to become a studio potter; I needed more development time. For many years this is exactly what I did. I always felt my work needed something else and wasn’t sure what it was. Fortunately, I discovered smoke-firing and felt that this was the missing ingredient! From this day onwards while caring for my two sons and teaching part-time, I was able to experiment and develop my work to my heart’s content!

I experimented with different types of sawdust and all sorts of different combustible materials. I loved using coloured slips and burnishing but I had real problems with my work cracking during the smoke-firing process. I almost gave up after a couple of years of not finding the right clay, but thankfully, at last, I did.

 As my work progressed, I tried incorporating some glaze into my work as I was interested in producing different layers and textures. I also wanted to work with lustres. The glazing worked well but the lustres would frequently burn off and as I particularly like gold lustre this was a very expensive trial! Fortunately, I did work out how to prevent this from happening.
I like symmetry and my pots tend to be symmetrical but I’m not obsessed about them being perfectly symmetrical. If they are a little off that’s fine by me. I’m fascinated by lovely curvaceous shapes. I love how a piece can make you feel by curving out and then slowing curving in until a finishing point is intuitively realised.

My inspiration comes from the natural environment; anything from beautiful shells, momentous rock formations, coastlines, forests and the incredible images captured from outer space. The natural environment is so important to our mental health, if my work could encourage people to walk more and find beauty in their environment, I would feel I have achieved something.
Keith Brymer-Jones (L), Claire Seneviratne (R)

A real highlight in my career was meeting Keith Brymer-Jones during a craft fair that I was exhibiting in. A customer of mine told me she had seen him in a nearby bar and I cheekily asked her if she would mind asking him to come over as I would love to meet him! She kindly agreed and went to find him. Keith came to see me and was so friendly and encouraging. The next year at the same show he met me again and told me my work had really progressed and was beautiful! I was thrilled by this and am so grateful for his words and the tremendous impact that he has had on ceramic appreciation through his passion and enthusiasm on ‘Pottery throwdown’!

In December 2016 I left my part-time teaching post to work as a ceramic artist full time and as an added bonus we had our double garage converted into the most luxurious Art Studio!
So now I spend my days happily potting and smoke-firing away. My sons now have jobs and have left home. I go for lots of walks with my husband and gorgeous crazy collie.  We both love the woods and coastal walks when we can get there, it fills me with everlasting joy and inspiration." Claire Seneviratne 2019


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