A gorgeous studio visit done by TateShots
I think there is a desperation with art, they look at art and they find it very hard to just enjoy it, they have to, kind of, interpret it and understand it... They don't just, sort of, ask themselves,
you know, 'do I think it's beautiful?'. I think there should be more of that.
This is my studio in Walthamstow, east London, the glamourous, new, up and coming regeneration area. Hopefully the tide of regeneration will never reach here, because I need to maintain my authenticity and an artist.
I was 23 when I started making pots, I'm 51 now. Within the art world it's my gimmick, you know. I mean, I use that term pejoratively but I mean, it's like, as an artist... whether you want to or not in the art world you have a brand, you know. So I'm the tranny potter... and that's not a bad, you know... people remember it...
Where I start? Well, where I start is, you know, I build a pot.. and if I'm making a pot... Pots are only about, maybe, half of my work now, probably less than half now, but this is what I mainly do in this studio. SO I start with making a form, that's the raw clay form, that's just how I've built it. I've got to shave that down. When I've smoothed it into a nice form and it starts looking like it's-been-made-by-a-potter shape I put it in liquid slip which is like coloured clay, and I paint that on, and then I will get a little knife like this and I will carve lines in it or something, and/or inlay it, or I might put little moulds on... look, there's a little mould, a sprig mould. Put a little mould on, a little medallion or something.
This one is a pot which I just made up as I went along, because quite often I plan them very much so I thought it would be funny to just make a pot where I started literally with having no idea what I was gunna do on it and then on the moment I've just started to draw on it... so mainly it's just stuff that came off the radio while I was working. So I quite like the idea of some sort of art historian in the future can probably work out from listening to the archives of the BBC which week I made it on, as a kind of museum object.
This is not fired yet,this has just been scraped. So you can see on the bottom here it's not been scraped. This is where I've drawn into the clay and then filled in the grooves with a different colour, and then I scrape it back so that it's almost like marquetry, or something in the surface. Well, this one is about, it's meant to explain what the whole of my next exhibition is about... but it won't, of course, because I'm a poetic artist I'm hopefully not just illustrating my ideas.
And that clicking in the background you can hear is my kiln, this up here is my kiln goddess who is really inefficient as a talisman because quite often things go wrong in the kiln and I get really upset because that means weeks of work have gone down the pan. So, making pottery, I think that's the reason you don't see many artist potters. It's not because it's naff material but because it's really shit when it goes wrong. Hehehehe.
Opening the kiln, I always think of it as an exercise in controlled disappointment. See, you have to imagine how it's going to look, and in my imagination it's always absolutely bloody gorgeous, the best pot I've ever made. But of course, when I open the kiln it'll be like... the seventh best pot I've ever made, or the twelfth best pot I've ever made, and that is kind of disappointing. But I'll come round to it, and I might even like it a lot after a few years, but usually I'll open the kiln and go 'That will do'.
It's a war of attrition! That's what it is... A war of attrition
You know, I still believe that if you're going to get on in the art world you got to put the hours in... and the idea that it's just sort of a zen master stroke of skill or marketing or something... it works for some people but most artists get on because they put in the hours... and they're nice to work with, of course! Hehehehehehe