A few years ago, just after finishing a big project, I felt a particular desire to explore different ways of working with clay. I sought methods that would allow me to finish the bulk of the idea of an individual work in a day or two, rather than the weeks, or often months my pieces had been taking to complete. I began to draw on clay, scratching through a thin surface layer of white slip to the terracotta clay beneath. At the time I considered experimenting with this “sgraffito” technique a break from my “real” work. While visiting the British Museum later that year I chanced upon a curious group of smallish brick shaped red clay tiles. Produced in the 14th century, these “Tring” tiles employed sgraffito designs to suggest bizarre goings-on that I later learned were intended to depict stories from the Apocryphal Infancy Miracles of Christ. the quirkiness of those tiles stayed with me and by the time I got back to my studio I was determined to push the narrative potential of this approach to working with clay.
At first the images were simple, resembling the overlooked cartoons in the margins of my sketchbooks. As my familiarity with the process grew and the ware accumulated in my studio, I recognized an expressive potential of the imagery on these forms that I had not anticipated. I set about increasing the complexity of the single unified narrative, and soon, in borders and overlaid panels, introduced supplemental imagery, drawn and printed, that could both support and contradict the narrative.
The imagery on these pottery forms expands on my interest in examining contemporary societal conditions, including but not limited to environmental concerns. This is a new and rather direct approach for me and uses a vocabulary of drawn (and most recently printed) images to suggest a possible story, offering clues, but withholding conclusive answers.