Ceramics Monthly: What inspires you to work with porcelain? 

Chloë Dowds: I first started using porcelain when I was a student at the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s Pottery Skills training course in Thomastown, a small village in Ireland. After spending the whole of the previous year learning to throw with stoneware, we progressed on to using porcelain. What struck me immediately was the smoothness of the porcelain in contrast to the stoneware. It was also absolutely beautiful to look at. I loved working with it right away. I adore how porcelain’s white body allows glazes to really sing. Porcelain has a strength of character that I really admire. If it isn’t content with how it’s being treated, it will let you know. This is a challenge I enjoy as it forces me to work in harmony with the material and it encourages a conversation between myself and the clay rather than a battle. 

CM: Why have you chosen to explore both colored porcelain and glazed white porcelain as two separate bodies of work? 

CD: The first thing that comes to mind is that I’m an artist and my head is always bursting full of ideas. In fact, one of the things that drew me to ceramics in the first place was the endless possibilities and potential of the materials and firing techniques. I can work my whole life with clay and still only scratch the surface of possibility and understanding. This excites me. There are many different directions and exciting possibilities to be explored within ceramics and one can easily get categorized. I am an artist and a maker of tableware, and I consider these to be the same thing, though some may disagree. 

I began my professional practice in 2014, setting up my studio in rural Co. Wicklow. My thrown porcelain tableware quickly became very popular with customers and I continued to develop this work. Meanwhile, during a residency in 2017 at the Zentrum für Keramik in Berlin, Germany, I began using black porcelain. I was intrigued when I saw it at the pottery supply store and wanted to try it. When I returned home to my studio in Ireland, I further developed work in this black porcelain however, sourcing it in Ireland proved difficult. This led me to mix up my own recipes. At first, I worked only with shades of gray and inlaid the work with a bright pop of color like orange or pink. As I gained confidence in mixing the pigments into the porcelain, I expanded my color palette to blues, oranges, yellows, greens, and pinks. I inlaid each vessel with different colors, and I became fascinated by these color interactions. I started looking into the color theory of Josef Albers and how the same color can look completely different depending on the surface it’s placed on. Color interaction is the subject of these vessels, so I decided to keep the form as simple as possible. A quiet cylinder with a vibrating color combination. The outer surface of these vessels is unglazed and diamond polished. Not only is it super smooth and tactile, but it also has a calmness to it as it absorbs the light rather than reflecting it. 

Photo: Ana Dorado. 

Topics: Ceramic Artists