Ashraf Hanna – Form & Material

I came across Ashram Hanna’s work during my GCSEs while doing some research and saw a video of him when he was studying at the Royal College of Art, I finally met him last year when i went to the Ceramics Art London 2015 where he was selling some of his work and it was a great opportunity to have a chat with him.

His work is concerned with exploring form through scale, colour, texture and material. He is interested in how these elements can inform our perception and understanding of objects. Scale and the space an object occupies have a significant role in determining our relationship with it. Colour, whether bright, soft or intense, has a powerful effect in defining its character. Texture invites us to examine the tactile qualities of the surface, and the role this has in influencing our ability to read and comprehend it. This is further emphasised when choosing the material: solid, dense ceramics or translucent glass.



Susan Nemeth

I came across Susan Nemeth on the Ceramics Review a few issues back and I absolutely fell in love for here work. This series of work capture what im seeking on my project, I really like the signs of rawness, fragility, vulnerability and individuality which are exposed in these handmade objects, something that I would like to bring to my project. She explores this idea with ceramics by investigating how rapid sketching becomes more animate and anthropomorphic with repetition and how this translates into sculptures of pottery which is something I would like to develop further after my Tea for Two project into my subject module.

Early European porcelains of Meissen and Sèvres are her reference, but these symbols of perfection eliminate the mark of the maker. Disrupting, simplifying and transforming these objects with the imperfect touch create a bare essential caricature, exposing a raw rudeness.

Exploring the idea of the pot as a relic, womb or a container for precious objects, certain elements become pivotal. The opening may be an orifice or a wound, the belly may be swollen with imaginary contents or a paunch bulging above a tall, narrow stem with an elevated foot may emphasise insecurity. 

Interaction with the material is a two-way process. Her practice of making, destroying and remaking parallels cycles of decay and renewal. She builds, soaks, pushes, squeezes, breaks, cuts, tears and repairs. To destroy and rebuild allows a lack of control, increasing motion in the making. The construction methods remain visible, similar to that of drawing, erasing and adjusting.

Susan Nemeth’s Website



I had a go at creating this tall sculpture during our combustibles induction with Gemma. I used ash white clay with paper pulp incorporated in it. Using coiling, I crudely built this sculpture which has received a few funny looks.


Visual Art History

This week we looked at the beginnings of body art, and how body is represented in visual art, it being used as a subject or seen as a subject or used as a material.

This module looks at theories about the body and uses examples from art and design. Essentially we all have a body and often take it to granted, most things you do is about the body and as they are commonly represented we commonly tend to ignore the details so for instance if we look around a room, everything is design in relation to the body, furniture, doors, handles, everything reflects the body. This module will not only explore how our body responds to things and operates things but questioning how our body is represented. What we look like? How our differences are represented in society? All these things play a role how we are defined in society.

Western Ideology of the body in art:

Often beauty is known as subjective, and only exists purely on the eyes of the beholder, nevertheless ideas of what constitutes the body beautiful are primarily values from society in which the beholder grew up in. So we aren’t born with the idealism of what beauty is, society nurtures us and tell us what to think what is beautiful. Visual art plays a key role in representing and reinforcing such values, so definitions of beauty as revealed by art is different from on society to another, and from one era to the next. so ideas of beauty change a lot through time and if we look for example at Rubens where women where curvier, whereas nowadays on the media how woman are represented as anorexic.


Vanessa Beecroft makes these installations of “girls”, she calls them, and she offers in one way an idealized view of beauty as they are fashion models, but the difference is that these installations are done in real-time and space so often these performances last for several hours on end. and in one way you could say that this could be criticized, by feminists and anti-capitalists, because a lot of the time these models will have designer product items and this is completely buying in to the fashion industry in the art market and the restricted views of how women should be. The thing she does is that these women stand there for so long that all of a sodden their bodies start to deteriorates in front of the views eyes. The constructed ideal of beauty cracks so that the real body becomes apparent.

Do Women Have To Be Naked To Get Into the Met. Museum? 1989 by Guerrilla Girls

Since their inception in 1984 the Guerrilla Girls have been working to expose sexual and racial discrimination in the art world, and in the wider cultural arena. This poster asks ‘Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?’ above a reclining naked woman who wears a gorilla mask. The image is based on the famous painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) entitled Odalisque and Slave. and accompanied by the facts: ‘less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art Sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female’. It really gets your mind thinking about it and how male dominated the art world is and how often the female form is depicted for the male pleasure.


Annie Sprinkle’s one-woman show Post Porn Modernist toured from 1989 till 2006. Her famous act in which she shows her cervix to audience members by using a speculum, entitled ‘A Public Cervix’. She invites the audience using a with a speculum and flashlight and in this way she demystifies the female body and revitalizes the sexual individual This really speaks out about the subject in which explores the ideas in which art and activism not only being the subject but also they were the object. Literally returning the gaze back to the viewer, so no one is making speculations of her and projecting that to a piece of art.

How has the body been used as an extension to create art?


What’s impressive about Jackson Pollock’s paintings is the action of him working and this vitality and this sort of heroic gesture. and these became through the medium a sort of statues of the artist and as a mythological and legendary character. For the expressionist painters at the time of the 50s had this heighten state of some sort of nobility. What’s interesting about this, is that it wasn’t much about the painting anymore, but the action itself.


Part of the Flux movement, Piero Manzoni created 90 small cans, sealed with the text Artist’s Shit. Each 30-gram can was priced by weight based on the current value of gold. It got to the point where people didn’t care about the value of the art piece, but wanting to posses a bit of the artist, wanting to know the statues of the artist, his commodity.

“It is a joke, a parody of the art market, and a critique of consumerism and the waste it generates.”

-Stephen Bury

Yves Klein was a judo expert and he believed the body was the center of physical sensorial and spiritual energy and he applied this principal to his work creating a new painting technique that involved the application of paint directly to the human body which became a living brush. On the late 50s, early 60s, artists were looking at different ways of applying paint to canvas, and this by sequence has made the body the subject but as well the object of the painting.


“I mopped the floor with my hair…The reason I’m so interested in taking my body to those extreme places is that that’s a place where I learn, where I feel most in my body. I’m really interested in the repetition, the discipline, and what happens to me psychologically when I put my body to that extreme place.”

-Janine Antoni

“Meat Joy has the character of an erotic rite: excessive, indulgent, a celebration of flesh as material: raw fish, chickens, sausages, wet paint, transparent plastic, rope brushes, paper scrap. It’s propulsion is toward the ecstatic– shifting and turning between tenderness, wilderness, precision, abandon: qualities which could at any moment be sensual, comic, joyous, repellent.”

– Carolee Scheemann

Hand Building


The art of shaping clay by hand has a long tradition. Handbills ceramic utensils for household purposes date back to neolithic civlizations. Neither the invention of the potters’s wheel nor the 6000 years of use has rendered this craft out of date. And hand building stills offers a direct personal involvement with the material which I am really interested for this particular project, a sense of participation, collaboration, identification which can’t be created with the wheel.

It is a way that requires minimal equipment. Homemade carved sticks or commercial wood modelling tools may be used, but the only real necessities are hands and clay. Different hand building methods include pinch and slab building but im particularly interested on coil building and there is the opportunity of the involvement of two people on this process.

More primitive ways of coiling at Gakoigo pottery village:

To more contemporary ways of coiling here seen on this series by Kate Malone (a must watch):

Tea for Two – PowerPoint – Initial Ideas

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We were asked to produce a PowerPoint with roughly 10 slides to present our initial ideas to the rest of the class and our tutors.

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We wanted to produce a tea set that would relate to both of us in a personal way were we could discover a bit more of each other in a range of ways, looking at identity, ways we present our self, ways of working, interaction, likes and dislikes, preferences. It would be an amazing opportunity to work together were we could contemplate each others practice and knowledge.

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The title, Tea for Two, to me represents communication, teamwork, personal, intimate and these words made me think how could we build a tea set? I really didn’t like the concept of Emily making half of the tea set and me making the other half. I wanted to produce a piece where we would put equal effort into it and perhaps having conversation while doing it, getting to know each other a bit more. I love the idea of coil building as there is an opportunity to building together a piece, there is a sense of immediacy and personality leaving a bit of us on the clay using our hands, and its something that we believe that perhaps using the throwing wheel wouldn’t be successfully achieved . How would my building affect Emily’s preferences, would I start building a tea pot with a straight side? Would Emily belly out the tea pot? How quick is Emily at coil building? Would she complete it while I am concentrated on a little area? Its all questions that are in our heads at the moment and will only be answered when we get into the making. We thought perhaps we could build the tea pot simultaneously where we could communicate and learning a bit of each other, maybe telling stories of our childhood, any secrets and in itself its a bit what happens when someone has tea with someone, there is communication, people talk to each other. How was your day? Any plans for the weekend? After completing our tea pot we thought maybe building each other a mugs and how we see each other into a mug and how could we represent each other visually or metaphorically.

We both looked and discussed that Emily likes, her preferences, the way she dresses, what she like to do? How does she like her tea? Does she have a ritual? What does she look on a mug or a tea pot?

When I think of Emily, I think of this laid-back crazy cat woman that loves layers and layers of wool jumpers with lots of colours. We also played a bit around with the idea of stereotypes and how all Swedish people love Ikea and which in fact she doesn’t. Moreover, she explain to me how she likes her tea and she drinks it with milk, like eww. In addition to that we looked into what her idea tea cup and teapot would look like. What glazes? Shape? So after all this information has been jammed in my head how am I going to translate this into a mug? I reckon ideas will pop up through out the week and as I get to know Emily.

If I had to describe myself, I am easy going, like things going my way, like exploring, nature, photography, details, family, homemade food, shoes, loveee shoes and sometimes its the simple things that matter. How do I like my tea? I like a range of teas including infusions as long we don’t add milk, don’t mind milk on coffee but my tea must always be black, so Emily, don’t you worry about making me a pitcher. The secret of a good cup of tea is the brewing time, its just essential, no rushing a cup of tea. Aesthetically I prefer my mugs quite simple with not much going on, sometimes the simpler the better, but Emily just thinks I like white mugs (and fish), but that is not right, I love the combination of form and glaze, shape and surface and how they compliment each other. How it fits in our hand is also very important. Is it a wide mug? Does that cool my tea quicker?  So having a pretty design on a cup is not the only important thing. I like the sense of a mug being handmade, we can see that its been handled my someone, and this aspires onto the tea drinking and the whole experience.

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We both looked at what would be “Our cup of tea” quite literally (bit of a play on words) and we actually have a few similarities and preferences. Of course there is the occasional tea pot with many thing coming out from it that Emily love and then the simple thrown mug exploring copper reds which I love but we always meet on the middle, sometimes with a bit of compromise but perhaps that would be the beauty of it, having different styles emerging together having conversations.

Anne Gibbs Print Making Workshop

We had the lovely Anne Gibbs coming in for the day on a little workshop on print making based on the idea and concept for our field project Tea for Two and potentially it could develop into the surface of our tea sets. She showed us on this first session some basic printing technique such as the subtraction, addition methods and some line work using a range of found objects and tools. These principles could then be translated into clay which Anne will show us a bit more on next weeks session. This workshops is also a continuity to our technician Caroline Tyler demonstration last term, where she went through some techniques, but we didn’t have the opportunity to get our hands dirty so its great that we had this workshop with Anne.

Through out the day Anne would show us one or two technique and then we had the opportunity to try them for ourselves. He tried a range of techniques and then after we experimented and could see the potential of each technique we could start laying techniques creating interesting prints.

The are some really interesting results here and can’t wait to develop these techniques into clay on next weeks session. Really like the result of the tea bags resembling the beauty of cells and could potentially see these further developed. Consumption of tea?

Both Anne and Caroline suggested us to look into Paul Scotts books on print and ceramics for next weeks sessions, so yeah, can’t wait.12788218_1151078701571955_1423575899_n


Pinterest – Virtual Mind Map

Me and Emily have been using Pinterest as a resource to visually pin down images, ideas and inspiration as its a great source to visualize ideas progressing on a webpage. I think Pinterest is a great way of starting a project if you are a bit stuck and don’t have much to go from and ideas will pop up through it. From one image, there will be suggestions of other images and its like an artistic web which we found very useful.

Pinterest Tea for Two Link