Artists Statement

Heather Wilson

All of my work is hand built and explores animal forms in various ways. Animals have always fascinated me and have been a part of my work for the last 30 years. Whether appearing as dragons, exotic birds or bones, most of my images have a basis in nature. Sometimes it is just a characteristic or a quirky gesture that will inspire a piece, sometimes a photograph or a drawing done at the zoo or museum.

Dragons have always given me the freedom to explore an emotion or attitude without the restrictions of a form being right, no one can tell you what a dragon should be like as they are an imaginary beast.

All of my work is hand built from earthenware or porcelain. Each of them is unique and they may be similar but no two are ever the same. Most of my vessels are coil built and the dragons and birds are constructed on their bases. The pieces are fired to 1080 C in a gas kiln.

The large terracotta pots are designed for balconies and to hold plants. The butterfly images are drawn on the outside and coloured with oxides. Some are glazed on the inside so a potted plant can be placed in them and easily removed.

Most of the fish were done with a process called Naked Raku.Naked Raku has no glaze surface as the glaze is used as a mask to prevent smoke reaching the clay surface and is prevented from sticking by a layer of slip. Pieces are removed from a hot kiln and placed in a bin of paper which burns creating the smoke that turns all exposed surfaces black. As the piece is cooled rapidly the mask peels off leaving the clay naked below and the smoke pattern embedded in the surface. The pieces are then treated with a water proofing paint used for sealing ponds.

The work in my latest exhibition has been inspired by gardens and gardening. My partner and I moved house and studio nearly 3 years ago and I began gardening and looking at gardens in a far more serious way as we have an acre and a half. My sculptures went outdoors and the scale of things changed. We have visitors who bring dogs, cats that wander through, visiting foxes and rabbit’s, resident lizards and I have built a pond to attract frogs. A multitude of different birds fly in and out as there are wetlands nearby and I started making birdbaths as bees kept drowning in the pool.

Our car port has monstera plants and ferns growing in it and the big old maple tree provided the leaves to press into the clay for the maple pots and hangers. I wanted visually interesting pots to hang on the walls and refuse to look at black plastic, sometimes I am happy if something cracks as then I can keep it. My monkey tail cacti are happily growing in a tree root hanger. I have more time to experiment and develop new shapes and found my plant pots growing to make sure the plants fit in well and have enough drainage.

Heather Wilson Ceramics