Ross Emerson | Using every process in the book and others I have invented...

Ross Emerson | Building Candlesticks
Ross Emerson is one of four new makers selling their work at Contemporary Ceramics Centre as part of our July display feature. His brightly coloured ceramics will be on display between July and the end of October 2019.

We are very interested to find out more about each artist and the inspirations and processes behind their work.

Ross shares with us his ways into working with clay and his approaches to making in the article below.

Further images of his work, together with the other featured makers, can be seen on our instagram page https://www.instagram.com/ceramicscentre/?hl=en.

Ross Emerson

"I knew I had stumbled into something that was to grow from an interest into a passion...

My first memories of clay were as a child, I used to dig a grey clay from the steam at the bottom of our garden. I used to fashion this into crude bowls or vessels that would then be left to dry until claimed back by the weather. I like to think this was an influence on the direction I later took.

In reality, I followed what I thought was the path of least resistance, Art College pre-diploma followed by a BA Ceramics degree 3D Design at Loughborough. It turned out not to be such an easy path, but I knew I had stumbled into something that was to grow from an interest into a passion. This was further compounded when I took up an intense and hard-working student/apprenticeship at what was then known as ‘Dartington Pottery Training workshop’.

This gave me an intensive training as a thrower and all that goes with running a workshop. At the time we were learning as well as producing pots that sold to many well-known galleries, under the tutelage of Peter Cook and Peter Starkey and with the added bonus of David Leach and Mick Casson as visiting mentors.
Ross Emerson | Candlestick

I soon learned that downtime was intrinsic to making the most of the work time...

I started my first workshop in 1980 with the aid of a craft council setting up grant and the use of a free workshop courtesy of my father. I built an oil kiln and for 3 years I produced thrown decorated stoneware. In those days I worked every hour I could find, never sure when to stop or take time off. I soon learned that downtime was intrinsic to making the most of the work time.

Today and for the last 30 years I work a 40-hour week max, and never on weekends and never after 5.00pm. This has been a strict policy and keeps me focused and efficient with my time.

Clocks

I work from quick sketches, where I am trying to see the initial concept of a design.

Ross Emerson | Clock
I have been making the clocks for the last 30 years. Every separate part made using every process in the book and others I have invented. This, for me, is the creative process I enjoy. I work from quick sketches, where I am trying to see the initial concept of a design. From there the challenge is to interpret it as a 3D object without losing the life and vitality of the original sketch. This is not always easy, as the methods of slab building are slow and mechanical; the immediacy is easily lost. To that end, I add as much or as many modelled parts as possible to give softness to the form.

I like to think of my time in my workshop as ‘playtime’. There is no greater pleasure than coming up with new designs, ideas and then working out how to make them. I use my wheel to make parts as well as pots in their own right. I consider myself a decent thrower though have no interest in the mass production and repetition throwing I used to do. I stopped this years ago when my back could take it no more. So now sporadic and short periods on the wheel suit me fine.

Ross Emerson | Clock
As well as the construction side of my work, I love the decorative part as well. My Father was an exceptionally talented painter and therefore it was always an area I felt completely inadequate. It did leave me with a love of colour and because I was decorating/painting on clay it felt like my own thing. I work with red earthenware clay that is then painted with white slip before any decoration. The ranges of colours that are available today allow me a complete palate from which to start. While I love every aspect of my work process, I really envy the potters who throw pots dip them in slip and fire them in a salt of wood kiln.

Ross Emerson | Building a Welk Dish











Having and using pots is the greatest pleasure, whether my pots or others, I feel it give purpose to what we do.

I find I have many pots around the house; some are mine many are bought from others or swapped at Markets. Having and using pots is the greatest pleasure, whether my pots or others, I feel it give purpose to what we do. Strangely enough I cannot drink tea from an earthenware mug, it must be stoneware, which rules out any of mine." Ross Emerson 2019

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