International Ceramics Festival

Friday 3rd - Sunday 5th July 2015

Emerging Makers Award

In association with The Archie Bray Foundation, USA & Waikato Society of Potters, New Zealand.
Sponsored by Potclays Ltd, Wales Arts International and the Welsh Assembly Government

Our Potclays New and Emerging Maker Award Winner Tina Neale completed her Visiting Arts Award placement in November 2013 at the Archie bray Foundation. A graduate of Cardiff School of Art and Design Tina describes her experience:

Visiting Artist at the Archie Bray Foundation by Tina Neale

As I write this review of my time in the Archie Bray, my head swimming with the million and one images from the trip and ideas that multiply at rapid speed when I give them focus. I would like to share with you my personal reflections on the experience and the work created there.

A little background to the The Archie Bray to help you understand the kind of environment I was working in, “The Foundation for the Ceramic Arts is a public, nonprofit, educational institution founded in 1951 by brick maker Archie Bray, who intended it to be “a place to make available for all who are seriously interested in any of the branches of the ceramic arts, a fine place to work.” Its primary mission is to provide an environment that stimulates creative work in ceramics.” (

There is always about ten resident artists on a two year programme and a series of visiting artists, usually staying a month long during the summer months. The place is a hive of activity in the summer, when there is an extra intake of summer resident artists. The winter months are quieter as the weather gets very cold. The Bray is well supported and opens its doors to visitors daily, who can wander around the art trails and through the buildings housing the artist studios. There is a teaching facility where the resident artists give classes weekly and there are galleries, which show the artists work and the Bray collection.

There was a certain amount of pressure adapting to living in a foreign place, both cultural and practical, for example driving was a necessity. Residencies, whether at home or in a foreign country, inevitably affect you personally. Sometimes to a lesser or greater degree, for me it is the later and this may have had an effect on my work. For instance, when I arrived in Montana I was excited but anxious and eager to do well. However I had the absolute knowledge that I would experience new things that would challenge my usual working methods. I knew this would lead to possible problems and force me to deal with my fear of failure. In such a place as the Archie Bray, surrounded by fantastic work and artists, I wanted to do my best; I felt that failure was not an option.

From the first day I began working in a very proactive way. In the spacious Voulkos Studio I began preparing my material, which as I use Paperclay involved adding paper pulp to my chosen clay bodies. I wanted to explore different building techniques whilst in America. As with all people in a new place and situation I felt anxious about how my work would present itself to others. Through making I soon learnt to conquer my worries of appearing inferior. As I struggled with new materials and the time restraints it made me consider more about the ideas I was developing in the long term. So with the fears dealt with I jumped straight in!

I spent 3 days exploring the buildings and grounds, where there is an abundance of artwork to see. The old factory buildings, machinery, waste and kilns were of particular fascination to me, and I revisited these places and objects often during my stay. One by one I got to know each artist, by visiting their studio spaces and talking with them about their work and experiences, this all feeding my new web blog. I began my work focused on aesthetics. I like to work in an immediate way and I draw from the often small details, as these make a big impression on me.

In this instance the small detail was bricks, especially the piles of worn rounded and broken bricks laying in pallets and piles around the abandoned old brick yard. I was also attracted to the details in the old iron machinery left to nature’s will. I felt able to work with these elements on a conceptual level also, when thinking about the structure of the building and what occurs within the walls there. My immediate influences were the transformative nature of the grounds and remains of the brick factory buildings, decaying and evolving. The artists who have worked there over the last 60 years and more have added to the changing fabric. There is a constant flow of change with different artists coming into the Bray every year. The continual evolution of the site fascinated me and this fed directly into themes I work with.

I started creating brick forms, thinking of transforming them from the actual to the ambiguous. Using the very bricks as forms, I created shells, which enabled me to use the brick inside out, playing with the idea of revealing the inner workings of a place. The cyclic nature of the programmes there, and the aesthetics of the iron wheels and cogs in the yard drove me to a circular, flowing and changing form. Practically, this form proved a challenge, new materials and complex forms. This was the testing moment. On the second weekend I had an unsuccessful result from my first firings. A new large piece I was working on broke into a dozen sections. It took a lot of inner strength but I pulled myself up, took a breath and began again. I used the broken sections in a new piece. This gave me freedom. I began to work on pieces that would possibly come to nothing. Therefore I was able to really explore my making style. My work became more fluid and I was able to gather new ideas for expression.

I began to play and made a couple of figurative pieces, something I am hoping reintroduce to my work. These pieces engaged with my experience on a much more personal level. For example a piece, “Chicken Head”, was an expression of my feelings during the first week, trying to make work and deal with lots of new information and changes in my environment. This stems from my passion with language and idiom appearing through a sculptural narrative. The last firings were better and I feel there really are no failures, only learning curves.

I arrived at the Archie Bray intimidated and slightly anxious about the work to come. I had only been to the US briefly before but I quickly learnt how relaxed and accommodating Americans are. The artists and staff of the Archie Bray and Helena gave me a lovely warm welcome. The countryside of Montana surrounding Helena reminded me of the Welsh mountains I love and lived among for many years. It wasn’t long before I felt at home.

For me this was not a placement in which to perfect my work, but a time to challenge and start anew. Such a short time gave me the catalysts to initiate a million buzzing ideas. Now I am back in Cardiff, I can take time to reflect and plan before I push the work further. I was inspired by the skill of the other resident artists, their techniques and discipline. I am drawn back to my printmaking experience and I am now preparing to utilise these skills in new ways. I find myself newly motivated to try different things and to do better. It was an honour to visit and work at The Archie Bray and to meet the artists and staff there, people I now consider my friends. The opportunity to work in this rich creative environment with people who are interested and have abundant skills, knowledge and willingness to share and help is one not to be passed up.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank The Archie Bray Foundation for the invitation to work there and all the support they gave me. I would like to big thank you to all the sponsors, for enabling such a fantastic award and prize, The ICF, Potclays, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Welsh Assembly Government, The Arts Council of Wales and North and South Wales Potters associations. I would like to say a special thanks to the ICF staff especially, Sophie Bennett for the support and assistance they gave me with all the arrangements.

This Visiting Artist Placement is supported by the Walsh Government, Wales Arts International and Potclays Ltd

Emerging Makers Competition:

The Emerging Makers Competition began in 2011. It is an opportunity for UK potters and artists working with clay, who have graduated from college within the past five years, to present a Powerpoint slideshow about their work at the 2013 International Ceramics Festival. The festival audience will then vote on who will win the two Emerging Makers Award.

The Archie Bray Foundation Visiting Artist Award was awarded to Tina Neals.
All things in life are connected and when events trigger change we work with it to see where it takes us. Nothing stays the same everything, everyone, all of life evolves.
The material and processes in this work give form to this activity. Each object reflects significant points within the creative journey.
My work is a reflection of my understanding of the world I live in, and the constant state of motion and evolution we are part of. (Merge/Diverge 2010)
I was interested in how the creative process, new findings and experiences can influence the work and can enhance or even create ideas.
I take this laminating process and fused the new objects with it. The movement and flow in the laminations, folds and curves of the clay I see as a metaphor for a life journey. Each new experience or environment feeding change to this form evolving it and influencing it, the fusion of a new object creating new evolved forms.

The Waikato Society of Potters Visiting Artist Award was awarded to Lisa Svensk
I am inspired by fairy tales, folk stories, and fantasy and such. My mother’s idealisation of Russian decorative art and culture has been influential throughout my life. A few years ago, upon the discovery of my Russian heritage, I grew curious of Russian culture and its fairy tales, particularly an old folk story called Vasilisa the Beautiful. Within this tale I found many interesting characters: the heroine Vasilisa, Baba Yaga, the ‘Boney Legs’ witch, who owns a sentient magical house that escapes from danger on giant chicken legs; plus a number of other fantastic ancillary characters.
I consider myself as an emerging ceramic artist who still develops new forms and decorative folk paintings, inspired by various unique cultures. The statuettes and sculptures created during my master’s degree are perhaps merely the beginnings of my developing signature style. However this body of work is the foundation from which I will extend my exploration of other folk stories from around the world.

International Ceramics Festival

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Ceredigion, Wales (UK)
SY23 3DE

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