Why did you choose to call the exhibition Erratics?
The namesake of this exhibition are glacial erratics, which are rocks that have been carried across the landscape by glaciers and then deposited someplace after the glacier has melted. Glacial erratics are found in various places across the world, Ireland being one of them. They are scattered across our island, and often have a connection to Irish mythology and folklore — from being stones that were thrown by giants of the past, to Ail na Míreann in County Westmeath, which is said to be a meeting place between the Earth and the Otherworld.
These rocks are special – from the journeys they’ve been taken on by glaciers to the stories they’ve become part of over thousands of years. I wanted to instill some of these qualities into this body of work. These pieces are made of the land: they are embedded with and coated in rocks from different parts of Ireland. They are taken far from their origin and original state and made into something new, sitting quietly, balanced somewhere far from home.
Did relocating to Dublin have an effect on your making process?
Moving to Dublin definitely did have an impact on how I work. The move itself forced a break in my making cycle. It gave me an opportunity to take a step back and consider the direction I want my work to go in. This led me to spending the following six months experimenting and playing in my studio to figure out my next steps. This body of work was born out of this time.
The works are press moulded, rather than slip cast. Why the change of technique and have you also brought in new materials?
This change came after my move to Dublin. I wanted to move away from slip casting for a few reasons. I wanted to start digging further into making fully enclosed forms, which is a little bit more complicated with casting. Press moulding also gives me more scope for introducing more materials into the clay body – such as the granite I’ve used in the pieces in this exhibition – and to be more free with the clays I use, which are both things I’m looking forward to spending more time experimenting with in the future.
The glazes on these works are remarkable, how do you achieve them?
Last year I purchased a gas kiln to have in addition to my electric kiln. This allowed me to spend more time developing a wider range of glazes. I wanted to still focus on using local materials I’m able to collect and process myself, now using them as a starting point in a glaze’s composition.
These glazes have all been developed using basalt I collected from Murlough Bay in County Antrim, the location that was the focus of my previous solo show with you. The basalt is used in a few different ways: in various percentages, glaze formulas, firing atmospheres and schedules. I want the basalt to be at centre stage, so no other colourants are added. I simply use a select few other materials to really try to get the basalt to sing.
What are the ideas that you are trying to resolve in this body of work?
These pieces are the next step after my last show with you, in 2021. I spent time reviewing that body of work, to figure out which qualities of the work I wanted to lean further into going forward.
I want the work to maintain a presence in a space, to attract and hold attention, to be poised and balanced, to be intriguing and possess depth of form, texture, and surface. I’m trying to make work which is geological but isn’t, that is location based but isn’t, that explores identity but doesn’t. I think I’m trying to express something I can’t quite comprehend or articulate yet – and perhaps I never will be able to.
What else should we know, to better understand this work ?
My focus has changed slightly – connection to location is still a key element in my practice, but it is now looser. My interest has shifted to the totality of a place, including the stories and identity that come with it. This mirrors my own current experiences, having moved back to Ireland, or more specifically to the Republic of Ireland, somewhere that I both know and in which I’m still trying to find my own place