Research – Porcelain

During my feedback for my work this year we discussed my plans for my project next year and what mediums I intend to use. Having greatly enjoyed the BAMS project, and having not been able to create my medals to the standard which I had hoped in terms of design, I discussed the idea of moving forward with the basis of medals. I find sticking to the confines of creating  a “medal” comfortably narrow but with enough room to innovative and experimental when needs be. I find I work well under more constrained briefs, as being told that I can do “anything”, as we often are in an artistic setting, makes me very uncomfortable as I have no grounding to work with and I spend far too long trying to find a beginning point for the project. A “medal”, is a finite size, usually fits in the palm of the hand, and generally (although not exclusively) is a rounded, two sided object possibly featuring a edge space. This allows me a starting point, a blank canvas  to work on that can then be adapted and molded according to my needs as they arise.

When discussing my potential medal project in the third year, it was suggested to me that I incorporate porcelain into the bronze medal, as well as some intricate sculpture and illustration. My tutors commented that my sketchbook is full of beautiful and detailed illustrations, and yet this has rarely been used in the final outcomes of any of my work in the past two years. As I am on a fundamentally making based course, it had never occurred to me that I could combine illustration and making, and while I logically know this is possible, I had never thought to do this with my own work, and therefore had tried to keep all my drawings separate in my sketchbooks.

With this thought in mind, I started doing a broad look into porcelain work, to get a feel for what is possible, having never done any in depth work with porcelain.

The first artist who I stumbled across was Katsuyo Aoki, a Japanese artist who creates intricate, semi abstracted, decorative objects using porcelain.

Katsuyo Aoki - Predictive Dream XXXI - 2011

Katsuyo Aoki – Predictive Dream XXXI – 2011

Katsuyo Aoki - Predictive Dream XVII - 2011

Katsuyo Aoki – Predictive Dream XVII – 2011

What I appreciate about these sculptures is the intricate, hand sculpted nature, combining unrecognisable patterns to make a recognisable object. What I find most powerful is the use of space, the open areas inside the sculpture allowing you to see through and inside the sculpture, which really emphasises its three dimensional nature.

Another piece that struck me is these porcelain rings with a band of gold  being sold on the craft website etsy. Their simplicity and clean design struck me, as well as being a good example of the often used combination of porcelain and gold

porcelain ring

As always, I come back to Claire Curneen’s work. I find her pieces completely captivating, again a combination of the purity and contrast between the white of the porcelain and the gold lustre embellishments, in a form which is both simplistic and yet complex.

Claire Curneen - Book of Hours - 2013

Claire Curneen – Book of Hours – 2013

Claire Curneen - Urchin - 2010

Claire Curneen – Urchin – 2010


Irish artist Nuala O’Donovan creates large scale, hand built structures created by repeating yet irregular patterns which are taken from nature. These structures, according to the artist’s statement, take weeks or even months to construct, and the finished form is the result of intuitive construction lead by the direction the structure itself begins to take. This interplay between a sculpture being both created by the artist and yet dictating it’s own form, structure and tone, is one that all artists face, although it’s rarer to see the creator relinquishing control and becoming merely an enabler for the piece to grow.

Nuala O'Donovan - Radiolaria, RD - 2009

Nuala O’Donovan – Radiolaria, RD – 2009


When trying to research the combined use of bronze and porcelain, I found almost exclusively the results which came back were vintage home ware pieces such as urns, candle holders and dishes.



Hand_Crafted_Colorful_Dish_Set_Set_4_Porcelain_Bronze__27939.1388873236.1280.1280From what I can find it seems that bronze and porcelain is a combination that while having a strong history of use, has rarely been applied to sculpture and art. Even when searching specifically for art and sculpture pieces, I found largely kitsch decorative sculptures with a handful of basic sculptural pieces.



David Wiseman 2014

In many ways this is frustrating, as it means there is very little research I can do in this area and draw inspiration from. However, on the other hand it means that I am potentially going to be creating highly original work which will be unlike anything else in its field, which is an exciting notion.



2 Comments on “Research – Porcelain”

  1. […] I am looking at using the combination of bronze and ceramic in my medals, it seems fitting to investigate using the traditional imagery of blue flower print as a form of […]

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