Artist Research – Laura Carlin

Laura Carlin is an illustrator and ceramicist who has lived and worked in London since graduating from The Royal College of Art in 2004. She illustrates children’s books and makes ceramics with illustrative designs.

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-11-22-38I really like the colours used on this plate, the bright orange contrasts well with the navy grey. I also like how really simple dots represent windows, simple mark making helps to create quite a complex image.


The drawings on this pot remind me of children’s drawings, as things aren’t in proportion on some of the animals. I also like how the illustration is greyscale.


I like the simple shapes on this pot, and the mix of colours and textures used. The shapes used remind me of mark making.


Artist Research – Robert Dawson

Dawson has created a few plates/collections that are blurred or distorted, making them mysterious. This interests me as I think that my theme will involve memories; some of which are very faint and the blurring and distortion are a good representation of this.

Willow Pattern with Uncertainty, print on bone china, dia. 27 cm, 2003

In all three plates, Dawson has taken images willow patterns and changed them, probably editing the image digitally and then applying using decalle transfers. In the first image, only some of it is blurred, making it slightly mysterious.

Spin, print on bone china, each plate dia. 27 cm, 2010

I really like how this series gets more blurred as it goes on. It reminds me of a washing machine on a spin cycle!


Can you walk from the garden, does your heart understand, print on bone china, each plate dia. 27 cm, 1996

Here Dawson has taken parts of the willow image and blown them up, spreading them across the series of plates. If one of the plates is viewed separately, you get a skewed view of the image.

Images taken from

A First Play with Clay

On Thursday, we began to work with clay. We made lumps of clay into a tablet shape and made marks into it using various tools. Annoyingly I forgot to take a photo otherwise I would have inserted one here! I will upload one to my blog once it has been fired.

We then did an activity where we told the person sitting next to us a story about home, and they drew it out inside a circle (to replicate a plate shape). This was to get us used to working with a circular shape, rather than the squares or rectangles that are much more commonly used.

The interpretation of my story, which was about all the different houses I’d lived in, and that one of my main memories of childhood is doing crafts.

Postanthropocentric Practices – Materials or Materiality?

In this session, we discussed materials – how they are wild and how we control them. An example of this is water: it becomes domesticated in the home, controlled by us via taps. It becomes wild again when we make a mistake, e.g if the tap is left on slightly, or if a glass of water gets knocked over.

“Material things, like people, are processes, and that their real agency lies precisely in the fact that ‘they cannot always be captured and contained” (Ingold, 2010, p. 8)

We always think of making as a project that we use materials for our own purposes, rather than working alongside them, which is known as hylomorphism. However when you consider the making process, most practices involve input from the material itself; not just the person who decided what to do with the materials. For example, in my own subject area (Textiles), I cannot think of a process that only involves the material itself. In stitch, a sewing machine is used most of the time, and even when it isn’t, a needle is still used. In dye and print, some sort of machine/apparatus is used in every process.

“I want to think of making, instead, as a process of growth. This is to place the maker from the outset as a participant in amongst a world of active materials. These materials are what he has to work with, and in the process of making he ‘joins forces’ with them, bringing them together or splitting them apart, synthesising and distilling, in anticipation of what might emerge. […] Far from standing aloof, imposing his designs on a world that is ready and waiting to receive them, the most he can do is to intervene in worldly processes that are already going on, and which give rise to the forms of the living world that we see all around us – in plants and animals, in waves of water, snow and sand, in rocks and clouds – adding his own impetus to the forces and energies in play.” (Ingold, 2010, p.21)

I think this quote relates to my practice a lot, as I said previously; it relies on a lot of machinery to achieve the outcomes intended. I have to work with a sewing machine to create patterns on materials, which would not be possible without the machine and threads I co-operate with while making. Any form of printing involves another material, even if it is just basic potato prints made by children. They join forces with the potato, using it’s structure to hold the shape they want to print with.

Home Truths Briefing

On Tuesday, we had our first Field session, and we started off in the National Museum of Wales. At first, we looked around the museum for an object or painting that reminded us of home. I found two paintings that did this for me, describing two elements of home in my life (explanations are in the captions).

After this, we sat down for our briefing. This is where we found out what the Home Truths project will entail. By the end of the project, I should have created/designed a series of 6 narrative plates, relating to the idea of home. I really like the theme of the project, because already it has made me think about where my home is. I have realised I don’t associate one particular place as my home, as I have moved around a lot as a child. There are places I have lived more recently where I could go back and feel like I am at home, but I don’t feel that way about the places I lived as a younger child.

After the briefing, we discussed everyone’s ideas of home in small groups (I talked about what I said above) and had a whistle stop tour of the ceramics in the museum. I took a couple of photos of some objects I liked.

Postanthropocentric Practices – Air, Wind and Dust

The first session of this study group introduced us to the concept that we live in a ‘more than human’ world and gave us a initial understanding of the word ‘Postanthropocentric’. Anthropocentrism means that as humans, we are selfish and only focus on ourselves, ignoring the other creatures and the planet we live on. This is apparently particularly true of ‘Generation Me’, those born after 1992. However I think that this a huge generalisation, as not every single person born after that date can be completely self obsessed and not care about everything going on around them.

We looked at three texts, each respectively looking at the human concepts of air, wind and dust. The first was Abram’s ‘Remembering’ (1996) where he says “the air has indeed become the most-taken-for granted of phenomena” which is very true, because until you make yourself think about it, we just breathe the air without taking any notice of it. The second text was Hippocrates’ ‘Breaths’ (370 BC), where he states that without wind, we could not live. We wouldn’t be able to breath, which is the one thing we cannot live without. We can go without food or drink for a few days, but as soon as we are deprived of the air our lungs need, we die.  The third text we read was Wallace’s ‘The Importance of Dust’ (1898). The two main points from this text are that without dust, there would be much more darkness in the world, as dust reflects light. It also gives us things we don’t necessarily like, but are essential to us, such as “dirt, discomfort and even disease”.

Towards the end of the session, we got into groups and wrote a piece focussing on one of the three elements we studied, and applied it to an object. Our object was a lighthouse and we focussed on dust, here is the outcome:

I’m not saying I want to feel special, but without me, you are nothing. You may have colour, you may have stripes, but without me, you’re basically a pointy block of concrete.

You’re so naive, you think it’s you that guides all the ships in. You take all the credit, when in fact it’s me. Dust.

So what if you’ve got a big flashing light, it’s my particles that make it visible.

You started as dust, you’re now a lighthouse, but soon you’ll rejoin me. But that’s besides the point. I’m sick of all the respect you get for saving all those lives. Did you not know your light has to pass through me?

You think it’s just you and those sailors out here? I hold back the torrent of the tide, if it weren’t for my presence in the atmosphere, the rains would be murderous.

Ok, so fair enough, you’re a pretty handsome lighthouse. But if it weren’t for my particles trapping the sun’s sassy rays, you would be invisible, like me, and I would probably abandon you.

You know, there are other houses, houses that would have little light if it weren’t for me, if I was not here, the sun would shine directly into them but then every spot out of its direct rays would be completely dark. Except for the light reflecting off the walls.

You think the sun is great? I disperse it’s light to make you sexy by day and a hero by night. You think that stupid spinning light on your head has all the power? I HAVE ALL THE POWER.

I give you the pure blue of the sky, the glories of the sunset and the sunrise, the dusk and the dawn of your heroics. It’s not all about you, half the beauty of the world would vanish without me. You self centred prick.

You should be called the dust house.

Hypothetical Design Commission Brief

The company I chose to write my HDCB for is Scion.  After researching on WGSN, I realised that I wanted to design for kids for this brief. I chose them because I had come across their products before but was unaware that they sell products for kids. This is a shortened version of my brief:

The children’s interior market appealed to me because I like the simplicity that comes with most designs for children (quite basic shapes, bright colours). I chose boys in particular, because after research, I found that there is a lot more variety with what can be designed. For example, Scion’s range for boys includes animals and submarines, whereas the girls range is floral and dolls, with both collections including a large proportion of pink in the colour palettes. As a girl myself, I feel fed up with that sort of colour palette, and I wanted to go somewhere different. I also feel that there are less products available for boys. I have chosen the theme of ‘Gardening with Dad’ for my collection, which could include insects and creepy crawlies, garden tools and home grown vegetables. My client fits with Scion’s direction because they have only recently released their children’s ranges, so will be looking to expand the range. My theme fits as the insects element relates to their ‘Animal Magic’ collection, where a similar design could be created using different creatures.

My collection will be designed for young boy’s bedrooms, but could possibly also be used in playrooms. Products may include bedding, curtains, wallpaper, cushions and other small furnishings. The theme includes quite a wide range of possible designs, with the overarching theme focusing on a boy’s relationship with his father, while discovering the great outdoors. The idea for the theme came after some research on WGSN, where I saw trend predictions for textiles, kids rooms and kids prints and graphics. All of these predicted quite rustic outdoorsy interiors, including insects and outside games in the prints and graphics predictions. I will research more into processes I could use to create a rustic/aged/homemade feel, which may include techniques that could be done by a child. I would like to include a small amount of stitch to complement the print in my collection, but as I am designing for boys I may have to choose very carefully how and where it is used.