Jane King makes small, hand-built, ceramic sculptures, in which their physical qualities act as metaphors for expressiveness versus emotional control and restraint, and the private versus the public self. The work explores ideas about perfection and imperfection, and the desire to assert control over the uncontrolled. It is characterised by strong physical oppositions which reference ceramics practice in 1960s California including the expressionist work of Peter Voulkos and the Finish Fetish group. Textured, chaotic and roughly handled sections contrast with surfaces that have been smoothed and planed. King’s process is to work quickly and loosely with the clay, pushing, slopping, dripping and splashing it, whilst also forming parts of it precisely through the careful and slow construction of slabs and the smoothing of surfaces, combing both approaches within the same piece. Sombre glazes and bright acrylic spray paints are combined within her pieces to reinforce their formal and surface qualities, providing an element of striking contrast through colour.
King received her MA Design (Ceramics) from Bath Spa University in 2012. Her work has been purchased for various collections, including: The Crafts Council Handling Collection, Arts & Business Collection, and the South East Arts Craft Collection. Exhibitions include Craft Emergency, Aspex gallery, Portsmouth, 2013-14, Dimensional Elements, Galerie Altena, Holland, August, 2013, the 58th Premio Faenza, International Competition for Contemporary Ceramics 2013, International Museum of Ceramics, Faenza, Italy, in which her work was awarded a medal, The American Museum, Bath, New Designers, London, Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool, Leeds City Art Gallery and Wrexham Arts Centre.
What is it about the Young Masters project that you are most interested in?
I am excited to have the opportunity of articulating the influence on my work of ceramics practice from the mid C20th (California 1960s/ expressionism v the Finish Fetish group). Researching this period during my MA was truly the starting point for my current body of work. I have also for some time been interested in the idea of juxtaposition, placing unlike or unlikely things together to see what results, so placing my abstract work, in a gallery setting which focuses on old master paintings excites me. I imagine it will prompt new ideas for me and hopefully make an interesting experience for the viewing public.
Can you explain to us what your work is about?
I make small ceramic sculptures in which their physical qualities act as metaphors for ideas about expressiveness versus emotional control and restraint. In the context of a contemporary society which encourages us to believe that perfection in all aspects of our lives, including our relationships, careers, home environments and appearance is desirable and achievable, my work explores ideas about perfection and imperfection in relation to personal psychology and sense of self. It explores psychological and behavioural contradictions and the desire to assert control over the uncontrolled in order to construct a particular kind of identity. Referencing the gestural and expressionistic work of makers like Peter Voulkos alongside the controlled and slick finish achieved by his students who formed the Finish Fetish group, including Ken Price and Ron Nagle, my work deploys extremes of surface texture and colour (soft ‘natural’ muted, messy glazes v harsh ‘artificial’ bright acrylic paints) in combination within the same object. In some pieces a smooth wall contains the chaotic within; in others, a messy texture spills beyond the containing frame or over the edge of the surface on which the objects rests. My sculptures are contradictory objects which I hope are thought provoking and exciting to experience.
Which artist/s are you most inspired by?
A wide range, including Peter Voulkos, Ken Price, Ron Nagle, Richard Slee, Merete Rasmussen, Christin Johansson, Sterling Ruby, Nicole Cherubini, Aneta Regel, Hans Stofer and Bouke de Vries within the field of ceramics.
Can you tell us something about your background?
I did a BA in 3D Design (major study: ceramics) in the 1980s at Brighton University, and an MA in Design (Ceramics) at Bath Spa University in 2012. I made ceramics between the two degrees but the MA moved my work on massively from decorative functional pieces to a completely different form of practice, which felt very exciting and right
What inspired you to become an artist?
I have made things for as long as I can remember, and always wanted to be an artist.
If you weren’t an artist what would you be?
Not sure, I am lucky enough to have a part-time job I really enjoy in the wider cultural sector (I fundraise for a major museum) which helps to pay the bills, but creatively, if I couldn’t make ceramics I might try to write?
What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
Taking the time, as a mature artist, to re-evaluate what I wanted to do with my practice and undertake an MA. Receiving the ‘Medal of the President of the Italian Senate’ in the 58th International Ceramics Biennial 2013, run by the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, Italy, was also pretty good!
What are your plans for the future?
To keep learning and developing as an artist. To seek out opportunities to expose my work to the public and to keep making