bone china work
In September 2005 I broke my wrist very badly followed shortly after this healing by breaking a bone in my hand and some ribs in February 2006. I returned to work on the PhD in April 2006 and almost immediately broke my collarbone, followed by breaking it again in both June and August. The third break would not heal and took until the following Easter 2007 to recover. During all of this time I was not able to continue with the sculpture I had been making because I physically was not able to move and manipulate it. When I returned to making sculpture I could only relate to previous work in my studio by breaking it. After finding out that bone china contains at least 50% bone ash and liking it’s perceived preciousness and fragility I started to make this set of work.
Whilst visiting Japan with a broken collarbone I became interested in the crutched trees. The crutches, both supporting the trees and causing warping, made me think of the trees as fragile. Pursuing this further, and attracted by its qualities of breaking, I have been using bone china to cast twigs from trees to create sculptures, installations and participatory work. The similarity between experiences of manoeuvring between unfired china in my studio and walking through crowds whilst protecting a broken collarbone has made me aware of the restrictions of a fragile body. Taking this experience to my studio work I am creating ‘fragility’; china twig walls forming spaces that are so tight to walk through that they are often knocked down. The sound created by the china breaking is both unsettling and melodic and has formed an integral part of further work. In ‘breaking’ experiencing myself, and observing others, walking over a floor deep in china twigs allowed me to explore this contrast between the pleasure of breaking and the uncomfortable violence of destruction. Underlying these installations is that one requires an active, assertive, destructive approach to the space and the other instills a passive, restrictive response.