I have some very clear childhood memories of my Grandmothers painting studio. The smell, in particular, was distinctive; a combination of the sea breeze, flowers and old rags soaked with turps. Boards of half-finished paintings would be lined up around the room and down the staircase, and various large ceramic pots holding handfuls of brushes would stand on the side tables amongst week old roses from the garden. The second tv was also in the art studio, and the kids would be sent up there when visitors arrived.
Disdained I didn’t get first helpings of the fresh scones and cream made especially for the guests, my secret pleasure was to push my fingers along my grandmother’s cling film covered oil paints carefully mixed on chipped Wedgewood plates. I don’t know how I thought she’d never notice it was me but it was after many plates of oil colour were mashed together that she finally said something. What I remember most is how she reprimanded me, yet treated me like a follow artist who should understand the consequences of what I’d done. Moving from each of her paintings, she showed me how each unique mixed colour had been incorporated, but more importantly, the progression of the colour palette and how the later works used an amalgamation of the older colour mixes. There were more than 20 paintings there, all dependent on these colours and each other.
This was more than 33 years ago, yet it only occurred to me recently that I practise the same recycling, gradual building and mixing of colour in my own making with coloured clay. I had the terrifying thought that one of my young children could mash up my nerikomi (patterned coloured clay) block collections and I quickly found a new secured place for them. The mushing of paint memory came to me while unpacking some of my grandmothers brightly coloured Sheridan sheets, which in turn influenced many of my colour selections. They smelt of fabric softener and moth balls.
Lineage exists within this body of work, the first vessels are bright with pure colour and pattern distinctions, and as the collection grew, each piece became more blurred and chaotic. It’s a making process I used to resist, hoping for similarity, yet now I look forward to seeing to how the colour and pattern combinations will unfold.