Studying abroad at Kansas University
Whilst away I took two classes in art history and two practical art classes, one sculpture and the other ceramics, in all of which I achieved A grades. My sculpture class, I found when I arrived were in the final stages of a commission from the Federal Reserve bank. Previous classes had decided upon the idea for the commission based on the specifications provided by the bank. However there was enormous room for invention and the idea was ultimately owed to the students who had presented the bank with three ideas from which they chose the final one. I had arrived at a fortuitous time because the commission was due to be ready at the end of October and the bank was putting on an event for us to unveil the work. There was still a lot of work to be completed and each member of the class was expected to produce three skeps. Skeps are the technical term for beehives and the idea behind the project was drawing parallels between the bank and the productivity and teamwork of bees. So each employee had donated an item that related to their work at the bank, students picked which items inspired them to work and they began developing skeps based on the items. We were not limited in materials but we were required to design skeps that would last and be hardwearing because they would be transported to different branch locations and rotated as the skeps were not going to be shown all at once. The skeps were presented on honeycomb shaped pedestals which slotted together and the skeps sat on top of each one. It was also the responsibility of my class to design and build the boxes that would transport the skeps and package them up ready to be taken to the bank prior to the event. So in the weeks leading up the event there was a lot of work to be done. Below are pictures of the skeps I created and some of the pedestals along with other peoples works. I also made a ceramic skep which I do not have picture of because it was packed up before I had a chance to take one.
Having never worked with clay properly before or knowing anything about throwing or glazing I was excited to start this class. It was a beginners ceramics class where we were taught the basics of throwing and hand building at the start of the term and glazing at the end. I wanted to take my pieces home so I was limited on size but we were required to make a range of mugs and bowls, as well as anything else we wanted to try to make. I handbuilt a vase and other abstract pieces which inspired my work when I returned to Reading.
I really enjoyed working with clay, especially glazing because you can never be completely sure how a piece will look when it comes out of the kiln. It was satisfying to learn a new skill and work in a completely different way, employing several methods and stages of making.