Paul Wearing


Textures that manifest naturally on surfaces within diverse urban and rural landscapes, are fundamental to my practice. I express my relationship to these through the glazed surface and ceramic sculptural vessel form. It is the correlation between the slower emerging life cycles of nature and the making process leading to alchemical developments within the kiln that underpins my work: a dialogue between the hand-made and manifestations of nature.

Through tactile, ruinous surfaces I experience a visceral and emotional connection with the world. These surfaces have undergone energetic change and transformation through forces of growth and decay, and it is these events, these moments which affirm life. Changes are signs of life, evidence of a vital force, marking the passage of time and a reminder of the inevitable end. Surfaces that conjure these inescapable processes have the potential to coerce us to a nostalgic past and forwards to a hopeful future. They are at their most potent however when calling us to exist in the present, inviting us to experience sensuous, tactile qualities, reconnecting us with a direct, immediate perception of the world. The ruinous surface as a call to live, to experience and grasp the moment is rooted in time.

The vessels are formed using two techniques. Press-moulding enables me to quickly form the base whilst coiling is a slower method allowing me flexibility and control over the vessel shape and size as it develops. I can attain a straight wall or taper it slightly to bring a different mood to the form. The simple ellipse and cylinder vessel forms stand as strong symbols of culture and civilisation and provide contrast and tension with the complex surfaces.

My treatment of the glazed surface renders evidence of brush marks and the chemical reactions of the glaze. The surface is built up and transformed through the application of multiple layers of slips and glazes, a process of accumulation, increase of matter and complexity, a sequence of lived moments. Glazing is a lively activity. The pressure, direction and speed of the brush connecting with the vessel’s surface determines only some of the outcome. As I paint the glaze onto the surface, it dries and absorbs quickly into the bisque-fired clay body. My perception of the surface and what is revealed is continually challenged and changing as further layers dry rapidly upon pale coloured powdery residual undercoats of glaze. The process begins to reveal its own language, determined by chance. Once applied the glaze materials are set to react within the conditions of the firing process.

In the kiln alchemy takes over, the heat-work fuses, melts, bubbles, blisters, shrinks and cracks the materials, exposing their volatile nature and returning to rock, unveiling their geological history in deep time. Once fired the glazing process bears witness to its own history as the surface reveals the multiple layers.

Frequently the outcome of the first glaze firing is unresolved. I respond by applying further layers of glaze. The glazing and firing processes are repeated until the optimum depth and complexity of surface appears.

I often work with vessels in series in order to investigate various aspects of the above states of flux and processes of change and transformation. Groups are distinct yet related and can be considered individually and/ or sequentially as there is an evolutionary thread to them as the surfaces increase or decrease in activity and matter. In all there is the potential for us to contemplate the simultaneous coming and going, appearing and disappearing of matter and time.

See Paul’s ceramics here

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