Interview with ceramic artist Patrick Colhoun - New artist, April 2011
Patrick Colhoun: I am self taught and started throwing on the wheel in the very early days and quickly progressed to handbuilding, to experiment with form and shape. Sometimes I combine the two and start from a thrown vessel and handbuild onto it. I work mostly in black clay. I like the way I can handbuild with it and the darkness of the body suits the finished work in terms of texture and the overall mood of the piece I am trying to convey. The subject of my work can be quite dark and masculine and so this process suits what I am trying to achieve. My palette of glazes is very restricted. I rarely use bright colour, mostly dark and metallic finishes.
Chain Mail - View his works
What is your present project, what’s its history and how do you make the pieces?
My current work is centered around the development of a series of partial heads, which are usually looking downwards in a brooding, contemplative way. I have introduced various piercings to the heads. Because people do not expect to see these, they add an element of shock and intrigue to the piece. These pieces are in some ways a series of self portraits both in physical terms but also in terms of the mood they convey, I started making these after the death of a close family member and it meant the making of these pieces became a very therapeutic process. The pieces are handbuilt by coiling and are refined as they dry.
Do you remember the starting point, your early works?
I have only been exhibiting my work for two years and making for slightly more than that. I am completely self taught with no ceramic or art training and a career beforehand. Only when I was made redundant from my job did I start to think about exhibiting my work and the first two years of my career have seen my work be influenced by a number of things that I never expected. My early work was influenced by redundancy and to a degree growing up in Belfast during the Troubles. After that, I liked the reaction I got to slightly darker subject matter and deliberately developed a style that was strong, masculine and slightly controversial. I began to look into other slightly dark influences such as containment, aggression and sexual deviancy. I think that this was my way of expressing the fact that I had worked for other people for nearly twenty years and this was me rebelling slightly, through my ever more controversial subject matter.
Pierced Trinity 2 - View his works
Ceramics Now Magazine: What form of exhibiting do you like most, what suits you? Tell us about your past exhibitions or residencies.
I started the hard way and had a solo exhibition very early on in my career. It focused around the subject of redundancy and was based around the idea that losing your job was not the end of the world. Each piece told a story and had a narrative lesson attached. I quickly moved on to group shows and much prefer that as it shares the workload and increases the audience. I have very much gone down the ‘art’ route as opposed to ‘craft’ and have recently started some collaborative work with people in completely different disciplines. I tend to partner with other artists who I get on with and whose work I know will compliment my own, I am quite particular as to whom I will work with. I am currently exhibiting in a group exhibition in London which is introducing me to a whole new collection of artists, galleries and opportunities.
Carcass - View his works
Do you also work with different materials?
Because I have a real desire to be different, I am currently experimenting with materials that maybe would not be traditionally associated with ceramics. I am currently experimenting with rubber and plastics which fit in to some degree with the subject matter of my recent work.
Ceramics Now Magazine: Where can we find you and your works in the next future?
Patrick Colhoun: I am in several very good galleries in Northern Ireland and I am currently exhibiting in Notting Hill, London until May. I hope this will lead to other opportunities in London. During the autumn I have three group exhibitions locally in Northern Ireland which will give me exposure from September until December. These are three very different exhibitions, both in terms of content and whom I am partnering with and will take me into other sectors such as fashion and fine art. Details of these will be available closer to the time through my website, http://www.patrickcolhoun.com/ and my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/patrick.colhoun.contemporary.handmade.ceramics