Selected on-line talks to Katharine Morling
Nature Box by Katharine Morling, photograph Stephen Brayne
Katharine Morling is an award winning artist whose ceramic drawings are exhibited and collected all over the world. As her first solo show in Wales opens at the Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre, she talks to us about why, what and how she makes.
I became a ceramicist almost by chance. Having taken a six year gap year after my art foundation, I started a psychology degree at Penwith College in Penzance. I used to pass the ceramics department on my way to lessons and I became fascinated by what they were doing, so one day I went in to talk to them. And that was it. I joined the A level ceramics programme and then went on to study ceramics, first at Falmouth and then, after a couple of years making in my own studio, at the Royal College.
My work is a completely personal narrative and all the objects I make have a direct personal link so the whole of the last 12 years has been personal art therapy – which is interesting as that’s what I had originally intended to do. Of course, I want other people to engage with my work, but I don’t think about how they will respond. The only intent is to make what I feel.
My making process is low tech and my main tools are a rolling pin, a blade, some fabric and some slip. I work mainly in porcelain and either cut pieces off a slab, which I then join together by scratching or slipping, or I just roll it up and squidge it into the shape I want. I work very quickly while the clay is still wet so the work retains a feeling of softness. Then I draw on it with a black marker pen. If I make a mistake, I can get the sandpaper out but it’s better to just relax and go it for it. It’s less laboured that way.
I describe what I do as drawing in ceramics. People sometimes ask me why all my work is in black and white but I don’ think of it in those terms because these pieces are drawings. No one asks why a drawing is black and white.
I enjoy the fact that people don’t know what these pieces are made from. They look soft but when you touch them, they’re hard and cold.
I’ve recently completed a series of pieces for the Miami Art Fair. The theme was digitalisation so I responded with a collection of gadgets including a Walkman, a digital watch and a camera, that I had owned, or wanted to own, as a child in the 1980s. I found the making process really uncomfortable because the eighties were a difficult time for me
I’m lucky that I have been successful but sometimes things can get so busy with exhibitions and travel and commissions that I lose sight of why I am a maker. When that happens I just have to stop and find myself some quiet time with my clay.
You can contact Katharine via her website www.katharinemorling.co.uk
The Katharine Morling exhibition runs at Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre from 29th November 2014 – 17th January 2015. St David’s Rd, Cwmbran, Torfaen, Wales NP44 1PD. 01633 483321; http://www.lgac.org.uk/Current.html
Console Me by Katharine Morling. Photograph Stephen Brayne