Dunedin ceramic artist Blue Black creates fabulously striking and playful sculptural works, ever with a wonderful eye for colour and form.
"The work generated is process based. I just make and in the making, ideas and reasons for producing the work evolve during the process or until the works are realised. I am a maker because that is what I do. It’s often not until assembling the work that it fully takes shape. It is a process that grounds me, the act of making."
Your recent focal point of your Flotilla series is inspired by sea faring vessels after finding a remnant of a boat washed up on Aramoana Spit. How did you initially respond creatively to diving in (excuse the pun!) to this concept.
Over the last 3 years my work evolved from squashing and ripping pieces of clay. During these years I’ve been in a psychiatric wards 6 or 7 times, and on some occasions I was given a pottle of play dough as a stress release which I found to be really helpful, just squashing and ripping the dough. A lot of the time I don’t know what I’m making, I just start ripping and squashing, and from that (the doing) the thoughts follow as to what is possibly happening.
Then the other major thing is just needing to fix the work, by adding to or reglazing and re-firing multiple times. Often it’s not what I was trying for but just have to accept what comes out of the kiln. There are so many variables – glaze thick or thin, leaving materials out of the recipe, and kiln being 20 degrees hotter or cooler. I quite like this lack of control.
I love your metaphor of your ceramic vessels representing a spirit entity and finding a sense of sanctuary. Your works are dynamic and expressive in essence, is your creative process fairly intuitive or do you have a step by step approach to formulating your ideologies and works?
It is about our bodies or vessel that house the human spirit travelling on the sea of life, and the intrepid journey that humans take in the changing condition of the sea of life. The intrepid journey humans fare, faced on any given day; that it is a journey of the spirit to makes sense of life. I have made boats over recent years. My story goes from intrepid places and ceramics which makes sense of the meaning of life based in love. The loving collaborative relationship with the materials that bring sometimes a comical or adorable sense that the pieces have. I kind of think that it’s just not me that makes the work, but by channeling something beyond the self that keeps me present.
I have always admired your beautifully striking and distinctive use of colour and glaze. How do you go about selecting what colours you use for your ceramic pieces?
I use Egyptian Pastes, Cambium, Selenium (commercial yellow, orange & red glazes) and some glaze recipes I have stumbled across.
What does a regular day look like for you?
I try to keep my life simple. A regular day is just following my nose. Living in the day, hour, minute.
Are there particular spots around Dunedin that you love and where you seek inspiration?
The Ross Creek area is somewhere I go to connect with nature. The sound of the water and the stance of trees feel personified to me. Being shaped by their environment. But the studio is where I feel some comfortable to just create from my own sense of self.
To view all of Blue Black's amazing works, click here