FAT Project

FAT Project, Personal Projects, The Kiln Rooms/Ceramic works

I want to further develop my ideas around my body, how it feels to inhabit a fat body, and a non-binary body, and how it is viewed by the outside world. I still need to upload my FAT zine on here, which I want to make as a digital version as well, and continue on in that vein. As part of this I began making a sculpture a few months back in The Kiln Rooms, which I need to finish sculpting and then fire and glaze.

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Above: photos of the sculpture in progress- it is hand sculpted from white stoneware clay, and is a self portrait based on photos I took of my own body in the same pose (which I won’t upload here, for various reasons). I need to work on the legs, feet, and boobs a little bit more, but I am planning to leave it headless and arm-less, as I want to concentrate more on main body, and I quite like that it resembles a broken classical marble sculpture. When I have finished sculpting it I plan to fire it and glaze it with a white satin glaze, to give it the silky white texture and look of a marble sculpture.

I started making this as a way to come to terms with the reality of how my body really looks- selfies and photos taken by others often aren’t 100% honest depictions and I wanted to challenge myself to see myself in a more objective way, to help build on the vein of self love and acceptance I have been working so hard to cultivate. I am hoping to make more of these small maquettes, in different poses, as part of this. It also got me thinking- its’ resemblance to a classical marble sculpture made me realise we so rarely anything other than idealised versions of the human form in art, and particularly in sculpture. Even artists who sculpt self portraits and cast from life tend to be able bodied and cisgender, with conventionally attractive or at least socially acceptable bodies. I think it would help a lot of people who don’t fit these margins to see bodies more like their own represented in museums and galleries, as we have always existed but are too often left out of art and history for conforming.

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Above: images of works by Marc Quinn, exploring the bodies of disabled people, taken from his website

I am particularly inspired by the work of sculptor Marc Quinn, who has sculpted people with different disabilities. However as someone who identifies as disabled (due to my long term mental health issues) I find it somewhat uncomfortable that someone who is not disabled is making work about it. This is because it almost feels voyeuristic, and a little bit like fetishisation, although I’m sure it isn’t meant to come across this way. I do enjoy the idea of having these unconventional bodies created in this particular medium and put on display in gallery and museum settings- as I think representation and diversity are super important; but I think more needs to be done to elevate disabled artists and give us our own platforms to create, share, and display our works. This is a systemic issue in the art world that needs to be tackled and discussed by all of us. I would like to create work that explores and celebrates diverse bodies in a way inspired by this, but from the perspective of someone who actually has a body that doesn’t fit the norm.

As well as my FAT zine I also created the video “I Can’t Help the Way I Feel (My Fat Body)” in response to the sculpture “I Can’t Help the way I Feel” by artist John Isaacs, pictured below, and the drawing workshop  of the same name. This thread is something I am keen to continue exploring through various mediums, as it is important to me and a part of my journey in self love and self growth.

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I think further research and exploration into the subject needs to be done, which I am going to endeavor to do in my own practice going forwards with this project. I plan to start by visiting art galleries/museums to examine classical sculptures- I want to do some drawings and take some photos for inspiration and see where that takes me.

Work Placement at The Kiln Rooms

The Kiln Rooms/Ceramic works, Work in Progress

I am currently part of the work placement programme at The Kiln Rooms, a Peckham based ceramics studio with 3 sites around Peckham. They offer classes and open access ceramics studio spaces for members and as part of their work placement programme I work for them 7 hours a week, during which I am training on the job as a ceramics technician. This includes learning about the kilns (how to load, unload and operate), mixing glazes, learning about different techniques and types of clay/other materials, and the general upkeep and day to day running of the open access space in Bellenden Road. As part of this I have free access to the staff studio space 24/7 in Peckham Levels, and free kiln and glaze use. I started there on October 6th and have been working on a few of my own smaller projects since being there, using the staff space before and after shifts at my job in Peckham. I hope that this opportunity will allow me to grow my practice as I don’t currently have a lot of experience with ceramics- I hand sculpted the ceramic bones for the River project during my MA but didn’t get to learn much in terms of techniques or the potential of ceramics as a medium as I just sculpted the familiar shapes using the same kind of techniques as I used with the waxes I made as part of the bronze casting process, and as I used to with polymer clay (which I worked with as a hobby in whilst in school and college).

I have already learnt a lot in the past few months since I started there; regarding the technical side of things like mixing glazes, kiln temperatures, the correct way to pack and unpack kilns depending on if it is bisque or glaze firing, and other bits like this. I think my main goals moving forward are to improve on these skills and gain more knowledge, and I also want to learn how to throw properly on a wheel and how to slip cast. I have a lot of experience with mould making in other materials, so I am looking forward to trying my hand at various kinds of plaster mould for slip casting- I have some ideas that involve lots of objects of different shapes and sizes that I want to cast in ceramic so it should be a good opportunity for learning and experimenting! I also want to learn how to throw properly- I have had a few attempts and so far have only completed one very tiny little pot. It turned out to be much harder than I thought it would be, so I need to watch some more tutorials online and keep trying.

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Above: photos of my first attempt on the wheel, my first pot before drying, and then a photo of it after the bisque firing. I have also glazed it since then and need to add a photo of it. For a first attempt I am pleased with it, although I think I may need tutoring or classes in order to learn to throw properly- whilst I like the shape of the pot it is much smaller than I was intending, and it is wonky where the clay wasn’t centered properly.

I’m also keen to try and get back into jewelry making, so I have been experimenting with shapes and form to create something (hopefully) different and interesting!

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Above: exploring forms through jewelry, showing the initial forms, then first firing, glaze firing, and final glazed pieces.
I want to try and make more delicate forms as these are quite clunky and I also need more practice with glazing. As well as this I have purchased thinner rods for the pendant stand shown in the photos because I’m not happy with how large the holes are on each piece- I feel it isn’t as aesthetically pleasing.

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I tried to make a coiled dish (coiling is a technique where you take a sausage of clay and coil it tightly to form the shape you want) but it collapsed, and as I went to squash it and start over it took on the vague shape of a vagina- so I decided to sculpt it into one, ending up with the above piece, which I have since bisque fired. I hope to glaze it soon.

Overall I feel I have a lot to learn- as mentioned I would like to learn to slip cast and throw, and I would also like to improve my sculpting techniques.