I recently got an email asking me how the figure inspires my work in clay by a student who is studying for their degree. They are going to evaluate three contemporary artists and evaluate how they use the female form. It got me thinking, and it really helped me to organise my thoughts. I am giving an artist talk on Thursday so I want to say thank you to that student for sending that message, it really helped.
Here is my response.
I think my interest in the figure and clay came about because of the obvious verbal connection, the 'foot' of the vessel, the 'body' of clay the 'neck'. I started to see my pots as characters, families, relations if each other. I then started reading books like 'The Body' by Lisa Blackman and this got me interested in the portrayal of the female form in media and art. I thought about how by displacing body parts it can be unsettling or even a bit funny, and why it is that nudity is still taboo in certain contexts and not others?
I am still exploring along these lines at the moment. I am interested in the body as the seat of all our experiences, how the mind is sometimes seen as the 'real' us, body and mind become separate, the mind some how superior. The way the body is dressed and modified to send signals, the way the body is our vessel that contains us, our carriage in life. Impermanent, ageing, diseased, flexible, inflexible, resilient and quite amazing in every way inside and out. I think this fascination became more intense when I developed Raynauds and experienced other health problems that made me realise the fragility of this vessel that contains our being.
It seems the body that contains us dictates very much who we become, male, female, black, white, Asian, gay, straight. Expectation is placed on depending which vehicle we are riding, some are pretty, some ugly, some able, some disabled. One thing is certain the body isn't permanent, all the atoms, minerals and molecules will go back into the melting pot at some point and be reformed into something else. There is finite oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus on our planet and our planet is good at recycling.