Monday, 29 December 2014

 My latest work in progress is a figure of Jeanne Baret, who was a French lady born in 1740. She was born into a very poor family of farming labourers, but in her lifetime she traveled the world, and became the first lady on record to circumnavigate the globe by disguising herself as a man on board a french naval ship. On board ship she was officially the assistant of the scientist and aristocrat Philibert de Commerson, who's role was to collect animals, flora and fauna which could adapt to French colonies. Baret was discovered as a woman during the voyage, although the stories of the discovery and its consequences vary greatly.

The images are of my piece unfired just after I finished modelling it in the studio toady. It's always tricky illustrating characters from history when there are no surviving portraits or photographs to work from. In some ways it makes things easier as I don't have to get the face to be an accurate representation. In other ways it is more difficult- having to make every decision about hair, dimensions, expression, attractiveness. As she has a remarkable and rare story that involves gender appearance/disguise I wanted my Jeanne Baret to be celebrated as and look like a woman. At the same time I wanted to illustrate how she may have been able to pass as a man on board ship. I wanted her to look intelligent and attractive without falling into cliches of what that might look like. I probably didn't achieve all these things, but that's what I had in mind. 

(The information that follows below comes from an article by Glynis Ridley who has written a book about Jeanne Baret:

'Whatever the case, Baret and Commerson did not continue on with the Etoile after the masquerade was discovered. They disembarked at Mauritius, much to the relief of Bougainville who did not want to deal with having a woman illegally aboard his naval ship. The pair later travelled to Madagascar to document plants there, discovering a plant named after Baret—the Baretia bonafidia. Unfortunately, the plant had already been discovered and named by the time Commerson’s sample made it back to Paris. Only one plant from the expedition honours Baret—the Solanum baretiae—while over seventy species honour Commerson.
Commerson ended up dying on Mauritius, leaving Baret with a lot of preserved plants and records and little means of returning home to France. She found work on the island and married a French officer named Jean Dubernat. Then, around 1775, Jeanne Baret returned to France with her husband and plant specimens in tow. The plants were turned over to the government, and Baret was later granted a pension for her service on the expedition. Bougainville reportedly said her behaviour was exemplary aboard the ship—she was modest and hard-working. The pension honoured her great courage on the expedition, despite the fact that she had disguised herself as a man.'

Monday, 27 October 2014

Made London

A couple of photos of my stand at Made London! A very busy weekend meeting new makers and lovely visitors. My stand was on the ground floor, which was originally built as a church, and my floorspace was a lovely mosaic.

Friday, 17 October 2014


I've done a new collection of animals for Made London. They are hand modeled from White Earthenware clay, and then their features are drawn and scratched through the slip painted surface. They have a high gloss glaze finish to them, which makes them tricky to photograph but great to stroke! The drawing bit is my favorite part of the process, as I'm never sure what kind of expression the animal will have until it's complete. I think of them as 3d Storybook illustrations of Animals, rather than earnest biologically correct representations. It's going to be interesting seeing which ones are the most popular with the public. At the moment I think It's going to be hard letting the Pandas go!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Made London

I'm taking part in Made London, come and find me on stand 71. I'll be showing some new wall work- Scarlet Macaws, along with Pandas, Polar Bears, Lions and Tigers! The venue is a church designed by Sir John Soane, and looks beautiful.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Full Kiln for Made London!

My kiln is very full this week, I have penguins, polar bears, tigers, lions and tropical birds, all for Made London in October.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Animal Alphabet and Off Cuts

Have had a very busy couple of weeks, filled the kiln to bursting with ceramics, then got a cold and stayed at home drinking copious amounts of tea and eating biscuits, and finished off another paper cut stencil, which will be made into a screen print. It's an A-Z of the animal kingdom. I've tried to choose a mix of well known and slightly obscure creature. My favorite letter to do was M, where I chose Manatee, Mantis (praying) and Macaw. I'll print it at London Print Studios in September.

 After finishing the stencil, I was clearing up and ended up playing around with the off cuts, which I feel have loads of potential...not quite sure how yet, but I can't bring myself to throw them out! I concentrate so much on the positive stencil image while I'm creating it  that I forget about the negative by-product images until it's time to sweep them up....

Monday, 4 August 2014

Have printed my new Alphabet of Winchester, with a different local landmark for each letter. It was a good change from cutting out street maps- if I make a mistake on that I'll have a lot of people wanting to know why I left out their street! The Alphabet has some landmarks you'd recognise straight away, (if you are familiar with Winchester that is) and others that take a bit more working out.