In this regular feature we speak to one of the members of the Wessex Guild to find out a bit more about them and their craft, techniques and inspirations.
How did you start doing your craft? What inspired you?
I have been interested in creative things from a young age. My earliest memory is of creating a plaster cast from a plasticine ‘Mammoth’ imprint and getting ‘Highly Commended’ at the Southampton Show for Schools. I always had supportive teachers, who were also very talented artists, in addition to watching Tony Hart on TV in my childhood. I am always inspired by other artists’ work and visiting exhibitions, but my focal inspiration is the natural world.
What relevant experience or qualifications do you have?
I have A Levels in Fine Art Ceramics and Art & Crafts.
What do you do and where do you do it? Do you have an interesting workspace or location?
I am a graphic designer and part time artist (ceramic sculptures and digital art), working from home in Hampshire. My aim this year is to build a studio space in the garden.
What is your design and making process? Can you explain a little about your techniques?
I sometimes sketch an idea, visit zoos, farms or use the internet for photo references. All my work is hand built, using coiling and pinch pot techniques for the form and slab work for bases, mainly in stoneware (crank or smooth textured clay).
What is unique about your work? Do you use special methods or make unusual products?
I have been told that my work has a personality, is quirky, and makes people smile. I do try to put something of myself into each piece I create. I occasionally add galvanised steel wire or coloured glass to my pieces for a contemporary look.
Have you won any awards for your work or exhibited somewhere prestigious?
Over the past three years I have entered and been accepted into various Open Art events in Hampshire. Mottisfont was a nice venue, where I was fortunate to sell everything exhibited. This was great and it meant I didn’t have to bring anything back home!
Can you tell us the story behind a special artwork you made? Who was it for and why is it memorable?
I enjoyed working on an Open Art piece at Southampton City Art Gallery with the theme of ‘The Four Seasons’. I wanted to use my love of nature and explore the theme around pigs through the seasons. I researched many pig breeds online, looking at countless images and making many sketches to get the composition right. I came up with four breeds in different poses, themed around the seasons, each sat on a square plinth. These artworks were made of ceramic stoneware and galvanised steel wire. The compostition was accepted, and the gallery made a beautiful job of displaying and lighting it in a boxed display unit.
Is there anything else you want to add?
I have just started up an Etsy shop Designs that makes you smile by ashleyjamesdesign on Etsy
I am also planning to show my work at two Romsey venues this August, subject to coronavirus regulations: Christine’s Art House Summer Show (21-30 August 2021) and at Hilliers with the Wessex Guild (4-12 August 2021).