Ian F. Thomas: The Eagle and the Arrow, interior detail, Plastic army men, arrows, paint, 4 inches thick
Interview with ceramic artist Claire Muckian - Artist of the month, September 2011
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Ceramics Now Magazine: You are a very young and talented ceramic artist. Can you tell us what was your first experience with ceramics?
Claire Muckian: Thank you, but I’m not that young actually. I studied art in school, liked it very much but never considered it as a possible career. After many years training and working in various environmental management roles, I began to realise how much I missed making art. So, I returned to the University of Ulster in Belfast to do the BA Fine and Applied Arts with a view to specialising in drawing. There, I had a brief introduction to clay, which I had never used before and had an instant connection with it as a material. I loved how malleable it was and how you could so easily transfer a quality of touch during making. I viewed it as an extension of my drawing practice. So, I made an impulsive decision to specialise in ceramics for my Degree after that.
Turbine, porcelain - View her works
Constructing using hand-building techniques give your works a sense of delicacy and lightness. How do you make your works? Tell us more about the process.
As I mentioned before, I enjoy making where I can transfer a sensitivity of touch to the material. It is important for me that the sculptures maintain a certain immediacy, vibrancy, and vulnerability that can be achieved easily with drawing, but that tends to be lost when making 3-dimensional work. I think this is the case with ceramics in particular, where so much time and processes are involved. I predominantly choose hand-building techniques such as pinching and coiling so you can build quickly and loosely. I’m not so interested in the perfect surface and I like to achieve an appearance of the handmade. I like the texture of hammered metal and to leave holes and marks like fingerprints. This gives the work an unfinished aesthetic that adds energy and immediacy to what are seemingly primitive works but that still feel fresh and relevant.
I wish to heighten the viewer’s awareness of space, air and silence. I am interested in the viewer’s experience and response to objects, particularly the handmade object. I believe that the viewer finishes these forms off in their mind and participates in their making to a certain degree.