2017 AWARD WINNER | DE MONTFORT UNIVERSITY
August 07, 2017
ALICE FUNGE | BA Hons Design Crafts
Tell us about yourself, your work, and your career path so far.
Producing a fully functioning vessel from a ball of clay using only a wheel and my hands is something that fascinates me; manipulating the clay to create any form I can is a concept I love. My inspiration comes from everyday marks created during our daily routines, particularly in cooking and baking. I enjoy replicating these marks in clay and coloured slip, producing a permanent feature from a temporary, mundane activity. The words around the rim of the mixing bowls are hand written by my grandma and give a narrative to my work. The recipes are transferred to the bowls using ceramic decals, which are fixed by a firing in the kiln. Ever since I had the idea to produce a range of bake ware I wanted to add something special to it – my grandma’s own handwriting seemed the perfect idea, adding a personal touch to an already unique, handmade collection.
Describe your first encounter with clay?
My first encounter with clay began when I started my degree in Design Crafts at De Montfort University. My induction into ceramics began with coiling and hand building in the first week, though in the second week we moved on to throwing which I has captivated me ever since. After we had been inducted in to all the workshops with all the different materials including textiles, metal and glass, there was a period of time at the end of the year where we were free to experiment and continue in the workshops. I was always drawn to the ceramics workshop and felt naturally drawn to throwing on the wheel, practicing as much as I could to develop my skills.
Why did you choose ceramics?
I’m not sure I can pin point an exact reason, but as I previously said in my artist statement, I love how I can produce a fully functioning vessel and a beautiful object using only my hands and the throwing wheel. I also like how it takes a certain amount of determination and skill to really refine your throwing skills – a quality I feel I am proud to have.
Where do you find inspiration? Places, people, objects, music...
For my final year project I took inspiration from the everyday marks that come from our daily routines. For example, I began making marks with kitchen utensils and took these into ceramics, recreating those marks using coloured slip. The pouring marks in my final collection represent the leftover marks that would be created after pouring cake batter from a bowl into a tin or pouring milk from a jug. Away from this project, I usually begin by taking photographs as this is a hobby of mine and something I love doing. I also love drawing as well as mark making – which is how this project began.
What are the tools of your trade that you can't do without?
Immediately my hands came to mind. Though perhaps not your standard tool like a metal kidney or a turning tool, my hands are the most important tool when throwing as they are part of every stage of the process. Metal kidneys however are fantastic for turning as they get rid of the grooves and lines made from the looped turning tools which I use. A sponge on a stick is also great for getting excess water out of any taller vessels I make.
What is a typical day in the studio like?
It’s hard to describe a typical day as there are so many different processes involved in ceramics each day is quite different. My ideal day though would be sitting at the wheel throwing a few pots in the morning, then turning some pots I threw a few days ago in the afternoon and decorating them afterwards if they are at the right dryness.
What do the next 12 months have in store for you?
I don’t know exactly what the next 12 months have in store but I would like to continue my career as a Designer Maker. Having finished university this prospect is a bit daunting as I now have to stand on my own two feet and pluck up the courage to get myself out there as an emerging potter. However, I have made an application to be one of the artists in residence at De Montfort University which will allow me to continue to use their amazing facilities for another year. I am really hoping the application is successful so I don’t have to worry about setting up my own studio or finding a workshop I can use next year, and can just focus on designing and making which is what I enjoy.
What advice do you have for those currently studying ceramics in further education?
Don’t give up. Ceramics takes a lot of hard work and you will get so many knock backs. You will always learn from every mistake you ever make in ceramics so pick yourself back up and try again – next time will be better. Also make sure you always pray to the kiln gods.