Paula Downing

‘Clay’s incredible versatility inspires, in most ceramicists, the creation of perfect objects – refined structures that defy clay’s organic spirit and control it for practical use.

I use it differently, taking it back to its genesis. Clay comes from the erosion and decomposition of rocks. Fascinated by this process, and living where I do, my pieces are to do with making fissures, splits, stopes and rugged monoliths. Volcanic finishes and deeply pitted layering mirror the ravages of weather and time, giving an inherently light material an intrinsically heavy feel and therefore capturing the nature of nature.

My pieces show no trace of softness and sometimes challenge the boundaries with regard to gravity and balance. I do not use a potter’s wheel, moulds or formers, preferring to build entirely by hand using the ancient methods of pinch, coil and slab. My earlier works celebrate the impact of ancient civilizations on the land. Their standing stones, way markers, forts and use of stone in industry, have influenced the colours, forms and mark making. The buried symbols of man’s evolution found beneath the surface are evident in some pieces. I work with ideas as a fine artist does, using the media and first-hand information, mainly in the form of observational drawing and memory, from walking the land.

Time spent on the edge of Zennor Moor inspired pieces that have been compared to Peter Lanyon’s abstract painting. Lanyon lived on the same stretch of rocky land and interpreted the weather and structure of the environment in oils. My interpretation in clay offers a three-dimensional response to the Moor’s primeval character.

Living on a rugged strip of land in the Atlantic, the pull of the wild as muse is impossible for the artist to ignore. Its form, colour and evolution are as dramatic as anything the imagination can conjure. Hopefully, my work is a direct, honest and respectful response to the world that remains unchanged by modern humankind’.