Chloe Monks, Bethany Walker and Elly Glossop are three artists united by a fascination with how materiality and experimental processes can express ideas. At the core of their practice are the transformative properties and inherent agency of ceramic and glass material states, which they relate to; the human condition, experience and memory. The materials these artists work with; glaze, glass and porcelain slips, offer the potential to work with different qualities at different states of being liquid and solid. Beginning with unstable, unfired materials, they use their specialist knowledge and experience to explore the precarious relationships between control, chance and material freedom to comment on the human experience.
Chloe Monks has an advanced knowledge of glaze, which she employs as an active compound to exploit these altering states. She uses the super-heated temperatures and oxygen starved conditions of a gas-fired kiln as a tool to explore fluidity of substance. Setting up situations that cause them to melt, she observes and controls them until cooled, resulting in a permanent record of the material’s behaviour. Through these means Chloe interrogates materiality, asking herself questions such as does an object have its own experience, or is the object only activated by a human experience? describing her practice as a physical manifestation and investigation into her own relationship with the purity of experience.
Bethany Walker looks to the fluidity of glass as a medium to express her ideas of human experience. Using her knowledge of kiln forming glass, she constructs metal armatures that represent the human form, then solid glass is positioned in such a way that when a high temperature is reached in the kiln, it melts over and interacts with the underlying structure. She observes this process, then intervenes at a precise point to crash-cool the kiln, freezing an ephemeral moment. For Bethany, this process is symbolic of emotion and our struggles for control and freedom over these fleeting sensations that characterise the human condition. She uses material qualities of glass such as its fragility and slumping movements to draw out associations such as being ‘Engulfed’ or facing ‘Impending Collapse’ to express a heightened emotional charge through materiality.
Elly Glossop’s practice looks to the influence of natural processes to explore the materiality of clay. In her hands the fluidity of liquid clay slip swirls around moulds to build up layers of imagined landscapes as she searches, through her making, to express something of the accumulation of layers of geological time through waves of fluid movement. Through her experience of understanding the relationship between gestural movements, that aim to exert control over the fluid slip, within a bone-dry plaster mould that is fixing each layer as it comes into contact, Elly collapses natural attrition into minutes rather than centuries. Further methods she has developed allow layers to be accumulated through immersing, intervening, finally burning them away to reveal the record of this process.
These three Ceramics & Glass graduates of the year 2020 have found a synergy of thinking that looks to explore the material states of flux and fluidity, as metaphors to express emotion, memory and the human experience.