Lucy Baxendale, Leominster, United Kingdom

Ceramics Monthly: How you come up with the forms and surfaces that are prevalent in your work? 

Lucy Baxendale: My process starts with automatic drawing. I pick up a pen and let whatever might come out emerge onto my page. There are often leaves and faces, but I have no idea what the finished drawing might look like until it is done. I am often subconsciously influenced by my surroundings, and no two drawings are the same. 

1 Perpetual, 14 in. (36 cm) in width, handbuilt and altered porcelain, underglaze, fired to 2300°F (1260°C) in oxidation, 2018.

These drawings are the starting point for my sculptures. I am obsessed with exploring how to translate a two-dimensional drawing into a three-dimensional form, and how the relationship between the lines might change when I add that third dimension. Naturally, they change and morph, and they become almost their own three-dimensional drawings. I keep my surfaces black and white as a reflection of this, often drawing and staining elements of them as well as sculpting to maintain the sketch-like feeling.

2 Many Heads, 13⅓ in. (34 cm) in width, handbuilt and altered porcelain, underglaze, fired to 2300°F (1260°C) in oxidation, 2019. Photos: Dan Barker Studios.

CM: What do you do to push yourself to stay engaged and develop new forms? 

LB: Every new sculpture is a new challenge for me—there are lots of learning moments in the building of each one, and there is no guarantee the form will withstand the final high firing, so sometimes the lessons learned are difficult ones. When you have spent months building something, having it not survive the firing can be tough, but all of these processes are helping me to understand my material better, see how far I can push it, and know how elaborately I can build before it becomes too much. Every day, I am learning new skills and techniques that I can implement into new sculptures to see how they work. For example, I have recently been learning how to use nerikomi in an illustrative way, which might be seen in some future pieces. I am so excited by ceramics and the endless possibilities that I don’t think I will ever get bored of exploring, learning, and challenging myself.

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