Penny Green | Referencing the past through contemporary figurative sculpture

Penny Green
As we step into the new decade, 2020 continues with our regular introduction of new makers to the gallery through our bi-monthly display feature. This January we're featuring two makers: Penny Green and Jaroslav Hrustalenko.

For the January display, Penny Green has introduced new ideas into her work. She has been exploring the idea of 'Wild women', an interest that developed from a holiday photograph she has in her workshop of Wild men sculptures at the entrance to Vallodolid Cathedral in Spain.

Contemporary Ceramics talks with Penny about her background, how she first became involved in ceramics and new directions in her work.

Penny Green

Contemporary Ceramics: Why do you do what you do?

Penny Green: My art education at Birmingham and the Slade was in Theatre Design after which I became a fashion designer for 20 years. In many ways, this reflects in my ceramic work. 

C: How did you first get involved in working with clay?

I started making hand-painted plates and chargers. After a time I took the Ceramics Diploma course at the City Lit with Kate Wickham, Robert Cooper, Annie Turner and Sarah Radstone. This all-encompassing course established a store of making skills and encouraged innovation and enquiry within the field of ceramics.  This has given me flexibility in my work which enables me to approach each new project, whether it is site-specific or domestic artworks in an appropriate way. I tend to do much research if what I am making relates to a historical place or person, along with lots of clay, colour and glaze tests. 

Penny Green | Wildwomen
CC: Are there new pieces or a new direction in your work that will be explored for this showcase?

PG: For the new work at Contemporary Ceramics, I started exploring the idea of Wild women, this partly came about from a holiday photo in my workshop of Wild men sculptures at the entrance of Valladolid Cathedral in Spain.  Previously made birds and nests have crept in, they are symbolic of birth and regeneration and I am planning to work more on this theme.

I wanted to make larger more curvaceous womanly body shapes and have recently started using Earthstone Architectural hand-building clay, which is ideal.

For a few years, I have had a reproduction of Piero Della Francesca’s Baptism of Christ in the workshop. It’s very enigmatic and I like looking at the composition and the way figures interact.

CC: How do you work?

PG: I enjoy working in my workshop making my funny pieces but I also love working with other artists and specific groups to make ceramic works for public places.

Working with clay gives joy and pleasure and it is heartening to see pottery becoming popular again after the shocking closures of many courses.

Penny Green | Lady of the Wild Things
Fired clay will always be with us and makers will continue to surprise and delight.

Penny Green | Dotty Man


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