These espressos are designed to float. They embody in their vitrification the essence of a fragility – endemic in both their process and as unfired objects. Their making is a test to both the porcelain and the maker – and going to these unusual lengths is why they appear as they do. Each piece demands multiple processes in production; the clay is weighed, fixed to wheel and thrown, shock dried, the rims turned, flipped and reattached to the wheel, base and sides turned, handles attached, bisqued to 900 degrees, sprayed with a celadon glaze and placed in the kiln for a final 1280 reduction firing. All the while the porcelain is forged under immense strain and may buckle at any stage.
There is an intriguing, sensuous nature to these cups and saucers. I first witnessed porcelain’s potential to be worked to a thin state while visiting Shanghai. Then, in the hills of Jingdezhen experiencing the wonders of a Chinese tea ceremony where the importance of sensuousness and the mindful nature of ritual is at its height. So these espressos are born from the stacked layers and through the lenses of these experiences. The extraordinary ritual of the ceremony highlights the possibility that something of its sentiment might be transferable and should be a part of our modern day rituals in the west. The remarkable lightness and balance provide a haptic pleasure and reflect he focus and time spent in the making. Coffee is an iconic luxury of our age – my cups are ceremonial objects essential to the ultimate experience of enjoying the coffee ceremony.
The modern day espresso ritual is fundamentally immediate in its nature – a quick fix. But does this mean that care and thought and a mindful engagement with the ritual of drinking can’t take place? If the drink must be knocked back, you might as well tune up any possibilities for satisfaction and sensual pleasure with the vessel used. The luxury of what a coffee moment provides doesn’t need to be taken for granted. A beautiful cup is a tool to make certain of a connectivity to the moment.
I have chosen to work primarily with a celadon glaze for its calm, icy glimmering surface when coated on porcelain. I look to the past glories of production ceramics and its most influential figure, Josiah Wedgewood, by using a recipe for his celebrated black basalt ware. This combination exudes a feeling of a cool mountain stream with the celadon water flowing over the black pebbles below.
At the opposite end to the delicacy of an espresso cup are my large corporeal ‘guardian’(section thrown) vessels – with a small vessel the viewers eye is drawn to its detail. A large vessel, on the other hand, exerts a visceral impact, challenging the viewer and capable of altering the space it occupies – Alice in Wonderland-esque. These exhibits I hope demonstrate the impact of scale first hand. I am eager to showcase a keenness and growing capacity for creating larger work. It is crucial to plan ahead with a larger vessel but the process of making must also feel free and flowing – a totally absorbing process. Large vessels would have originally functioned as containers – my versions of these historical forms contain instead space and are capable of occupying architectural and external spaces.