Thursday, 12 March 2015

Encounters at Corvi-Mora

'Encounters', my new exhibition of figurines opens tonight at Corvi-Mora Gallery in Kennington. Each piece in the exhibition is focused on a moment of discovery or interaction between humans and the natural world. Some of the interactions are historical, and based on accounts of the encounter taken from the time, some are first encounters, some are impossible encounters, and all are imagined and interpreted by me. I have written about two of the pieces; 'Hooke' and 'Jeanne Baret' in earlier blog posts.

The show is up until the 25th of April 2015, for details and location click here:

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Trusty Servant Again

 I visited Winchester College to put one of my figurines into its new display case today. It is going to live in one of the libraries there, under an 1800's scientific bell jar. The Trusty Servant is an invented character specific to Winchester College, and a kind of mascot for the college. one of the paintings of the Trusty Servant at the college dates to the 1580s. The College collects images and objects relating to the Trusty Servant for their archives. My figurine is in the company of some amazing books in the library.

Hookes Micrographia

I have been working on a figurine of Robert Hooke, who was a natural philosopher, architect and polymath. He was born in 1635, and wrote Micrographia, which has some beautiful illustrations of things Hooke observed through his microscope. Published in September 1665, it was the first scientific best-seller, inspiring a wide public interest in the new science of microscopy. I visited Winchester College today and got to see this book first hand.

In my figurine I have illustrated Hooke examining a flea through his microscope, which was inspired by one of the beautiful printed plates I saw today. The prints are on a surprisingly large scale.

These are details of his Flea and Louse plates from the book.

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.