Conversations with Claude

February 2024

Vault Research, Investec Cape Town Art Fair


This body of porcelain vessels has been assembled in response to the painting ‘Turtle on Dry Land’ by Claude Bouscharain. I have tried to make a visual translation or equivalent of her painting which is a conversation and is congruent with my own explorations of colour and form.

I have worked with porcelain as primary medium for over forty years. The journey has delivered autobiographical excavations alongside explorations of translucency, qualities of light, tone and hue. It has been demanding given that clay is most often associated with craft but I have pursued my work with a painters love of light and vibrational colour.

Guessed at tones found in raw clay, differences in densities of light refraction and varying surface qualities are determined and made final by the kiln. I assemble groups of vessels as ephemeral brush strokes courting the movements of light. Everything is part of something greater. While Claude worked with symbol, colour and shape, I find that I have moved away from representation. Simple recognised vessel forms are my alphabet and armature. I try to find a wordless place and to make work on a scale which relates to life incubated and lived in the home.

The materiality of raw clay always has the last word. The fired object affords one fixed touch stone in a highly mutable process of living and of making. Even when the news is very bad, which it mostly is these days, it is the kiln which gets me springing out of bed in search of other horizons. My work becomes my alchemists’s retort.

I make work as a practice, settling responses to things in the world which lie outside of my control. Fragility is an unavoidable aspect, mirroring as it does the precarious nature of being alive. I have learned to fix and to refire, to work with and despite and to often to fire again and again.

Assemblies of works are never ‘finished’, they move and court different qualities of light across their fragile, elliptical forms in an ongoing dance of placement and context. Just as a vessel’s hue changes in relation to it’s neighbour, it is the shifting light and context which bring about new views. We live in a world of rotation.

I work attentively in this flux constantly voyaging and contemplating, searching for light filled moments of resolution and poise.