Key medals – concept

My initial aim for this project was to create a piece of work, through the medium of the medal, that represents personal growth and development of the self, over the changing stages of life; the repeated fracturing and reforming process as we deal with trauma, loss, triumph, happiness, bonds being formed and others being broken, as we slowly define and refine our sense of identity, and how we define ourselves to others. We select significant events and experiences in our lives, and absorb it into part of our personal narrative, and disregard others, through an ever continuing process of refinement.

This is an important topic to me personally, as now that I come to the end of my university experience, I feel that I have reached the end of an era in my life and come out the end a distinctly different and more developed person than at the beginning. Yet I am both paradoxically, entirely different and completely the same. I have become more, myself, then I have ever been; taking the best parts of myself and exemplifying them, and allowing others to fall by the wayside. However, this is not a finished process, and while I feel I am in a strong and secure place currently I am still in (hopefully) a very early stage of my life which I am sure will feature many more points of turmoil and success in the many years to come. Not only have I changed, and will continue to change, but the events and my perception of these events and relationships do not remain fixed, as we continually revisit the past with the lens of our current self.

It was this realisation, that drove me to use this as a theme for this project, as it is one that is both important to me personally, and that is common to all people and the changing development throughout their lives. The term for this, is known as “Sonder” – defined by The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows as “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.”

While I originally intended for the work to be representative of this notion as a whole, the different stages and features of people’s lives which change, repeat, fault and interchange; I came to realise through the project that just as the adage often used by writers of books, I can only draw from my own experience. In the end, while having this notion of sonder, and understanding that the lives of all people unfold in just as complex and fundamentally important manners as my own, this is perhaps far too infinite for me to be able to capture and express. I cannot truly know the lives of others, and tasking myself with creating a piece of work which is personally identifiable to all people is something that while I still feel strongly about – is possibly a task taken over a life time, rather than approximately half a year in a final year degree show.

It is because of this, that I decided to make the focus of the medals my own personal life’s narrative, but in a manner that given care, consideration and understanding, is still able to be read and understood by others investigating it’s underlying theme.


The medals are a set of five, using the imagery of keys, which each represent a distinct stage or relationship in my life.

I feel very strongly about the use of keys as a motif, in that they are objects which are inherently understandable, and yet also able to carry and convey a weight of meaning. Keys are objects that every person carries with them, every day of their lives. They are fundamentally linked to place, keeping you tied to that place – and by extension the relationships and experiences tied there – even if you may be thousands of miles away. Keys represent options, and opportunities; a person with only one key only has access to one thing, whereas a person with many keys has access to many more places, people, objects, facilities. Keys can be freeing, and the absence of them can be constricting. Not only do they carry these meanings in their function, but they are also able to be read visually. The key can range from the simplistic and mundane, to the ornate, complex and beautiful, with each carrying it own identifiable value and associations. As both my subject, field, and dissertation work explores,  objects act as containers and vehicles for personal meaning, value, and experience, and some of these values can be expressed and understood wordlessly by others through entirely the form, and context of the object. We unconsciously read the meanings and values given to them by their making in in their use.

It is because of this that I believe the keys to be a strong choice in design for the medals. Each key is able to some extent to be read, simply in it’s form and design, and the viewer is therefore able to speculate what that may represent to me personally.

The medals themselves are sequential, moving through different stages of my life, and only when fitted together in the correct sequence is the poem on the edges revealed.

The first key in the set, is a small set of two keys, which comes from a child’s lock box. The keys are small, thin, and flimsy, and functional in the most basic of senses. While they do lock and unlock, they provide no real security, and act as merely a prop to make the child feel more secure.

child's key

This is a style of key that is not only understandable as a child’s key in it’s design, but may in fact be familiar to many as it is widely used in children’s products with locks and keys such as money boxes, and I was in fact able to find an identical set on google when looking for children’s money boxes This medal represents the period of childhood, of innocence, a fresh life with no prior experience. Because of this, the reverse side is smooth, polished and clean.

The surface of the second medal, is missing the children’s key from the surface. Instead, there is now a more recognisable, bona fide set of keys, clearly the type used for doors. They are sturdy, and more complex in design, while still being entirely functional, bearing the logo of the key company RST on the front. These are they keys to the front door of my family home, that I was given at a young age around eight or nine. It was around this age that I began to face my first major life conflicts, with my grandmother (whose home we lived in, then inhereted by my mother) passed away, triggering my mother’s first major episode of a psychotic manic episode, leading to her diagnosis of bi-polar disorder, leading to a period of hospitalisation. Shortly following this in the following year, my father was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney which spread to the brain, hospitalising him and having him pass away soon after on my ninth birthday. The again caused my mother to have another psychotic episode, leading me to spend a large part of the next year living with other family members, and visiting my mother in the mental hospital, while coming to terms with my father’s death.

Needless to say, this was a traumatic time for me, and signifies to me a very clear loss of childhood, and a sudden mounting of responsibility, represented by both the new set of house keys, and the painfully absent set of children’s keys. While this back story is clearly not something which will be understood or inferred from these medals, an outsider will not look at these two medals and deduce “this is a representation of the artist’s loss of a father figure as a child and her mother being institutionalised”, they may be able to understand the dialogue; the loss of childhood innocence moving into a different stage of life, and the sense of both loss and new found responsibility and independence.

The third medal in the set, this time shows still the set of house keys from the previous medal, but also a new, more ornate key. This key is in clear contrast to the more practical house keys, looking more decorative than functional, with a complex handle and simplistic locking mechanism. Rather than being held with a sturdy keyring, it is instead held with a set of two small loops, such as you would find on a necklace. We can understand from this key that is perhaps more sentimentally valuable, than for its function as a key, and that this is a new addition in my life.

The key in question, was in fact a gift that was given to me by my boyfriend of five years throughout my teenage years and school. If we understand that the first key is that of a young child, and the second is a first set of house keys, we can then deduce that this third medal is perhaps set in the teenage years of the person’s life, and that they have a new sentimental attachment of some form in their life that they treasure.

necklace key

a photo of me in my teenage years, almost exclusively always wearing the key necklace

This relationship was one that was incredibly valuable to me throughout my teenage years, as my life became increasingly turbulent. Teenage years are often a turbulent time for many, a stage of uncertainty and insecurity, beginning to question, search for and identify your own personal values and your relation to others, while also navigating the needs and troubles of others in your peer group. Not only this, but once again I had to face the various periods of my mother’s mania and depression, and while this was not a constant condition – with her often going many years without an episode – the interludes were often filled with an uncomfortable role reversal of parent and child, attempting to manage her general absent presence and alcoholism. My relationship with my boyfriend of the time, and his family, acted as a much needed anchor and support system to fall back upon in these difficult times, in the face of otherwise isolation.

The house keys, both in a literal sense and the symbolic sense representing my relationship with my mother, are still present in my life, despite being an anchor in the suffocating sense, rather than supportive sense of Martyn (my boyfriend) ‘s family. While time with Martyn and his family (represented by the decorative key necklace) is a welcome relief and separation between myself and the family home, the distance – again, in both a physical and symbolic sense – is only slim, and the looming sense of responsibility from home is never far.

On the reverse side we can see imprints of both the childhood key, and the house keys despite them still being present on the surface. While the childhood key was not present on the surface of the second medal, it is still something that is felt as an absence even into the teenage years. However, the colouring of the childhood keys are less dark than the previous medal, and lighter than the near black tone of the house key imprint, signifying the depth of the loss felt. This is a continuing conflict throughout the medals, the simultaneous presence and sense of absence of the home keys, as it is a continuing theme and conflict throughout my life – of feeling inescapably tied to my home life.

The fouth and penultimate medal in the set, features again the set of home keys, but now instead of the decorative sentimental key, there is another set of sturdy, functional keys. Moving through the timeline of my life, from childhood, through to teenage years, this medal represents early adulthood. This set of keys is in fact the keys to my first flat, which I moved into during my second year of university after spending the first year still living at home, as my family home is in Cardiff. However, after my mother having another manic episode towards the end of my first year at university and the intense stress it was putting me under, thanks to the strong advice and support of the university’s chaplain Paul Fitzpatrick I was enabled to finally move out from the family home after having resigned myself for years that I was to be trapped in that destructive environment.

While I now had more options and avenues of escape in my life, with the new set of functional keys representing my new access to a home other than my family home, in many ways I was more isolated than ever before, and still strongly and crushingly tied to my home life. Shortly after moving out within the first two months of the second year of university, while still recovering from her previous manic episode from the end of the last academic year, only recently having been realised home from the mental hospital, my mother suffered a severe stroke. This left her hospitalised for roughly six months on end, being possibly more dependent on me than ever before. This left me travelling daily on the bus between university, the family home to look after the dog in the empty house, to the hospital to visit and bring support, supplies, and clean clothes, taking away her urine soaked clothes back to the family home to be washed, before finally catching the last bus to my flat. Although it most certainly would have been more practical for me to move back to the family home, I was determined to make full use of my small foothold of independence despite being pulled tighter home than ever before.

Meanwhile, while this is all happening, I am still feeling the loss of childhood – although the child’s keys are now a lighter colour showing my coming to terms with this, and clearly still the conflict of home, but also the loss of my supportive relationship in the form of my 5 year boyfriend and his family, as well as the loss of the family dog whom I loved that I was no longer able to care for.

As we can see from the medal, this was a period of much intense loss, with only the added modicum of independence being gained.

The final medal, while still having the set of house keys, more significantly features an entirely new set of keys, completely separate and overshadowing the house keys. These keys represent my shift fully into adulthood, becoming entirely independent from my home ties. Despite still being present, they are now a far smaller and less significant focus in my life. The new set of keys are they keys to my second flat in which I am living with friends from my course – rather than the previous year in which I was living on my own for the best part of the year. I am both living and functioning happily and autonomously, and although I still face pressures and demands from home I have deliberately put once again both physical and emotional distance between myself and the family home, setting a firm limit on the amount of time that I am willing to spend there. The absence of family life is still felt, although now much paler in colour than the previous medals as I come to terms with this, and there is an loss felt for my time at St Michael’s (my first flat) and the yearning for what my first year of independence could have been, this too is something I have largely come to terms with.

This final medal is far more hopeful, with the gains far outweighing the sense of loss. Not only this, but it marks the completion of the set, allowing all of the medals to come together in order for the poem inscribed on the side to be read.


Each individual medal is a thin and isolated slice on its own, as is any extract taken from a person’s life. Upon meeting a person, we only see and are able to interpret what is presented to us, the current iteration of their self, and perhaps speculate as to what may have come before it. We may, through investigation then reveal different slices and layers of their life, which may seem entirely distinct or perhaps only a very minor change to the version you see in the fully formed person. It is only then by putting these pieces together as a whole, that we can truly appreciate and understand the full breadth of a person and their experience, and understand the sonderous nature of another person’s life in relation to our own.

The lines inscribed down the side of the medal are extracts from Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “If”. They read,

” If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you

If you can meet with Triumph & Disaster,

& treat those two imposters as the same

& so hold on when there is nothing in you,

Except the will which says “Hold on!”

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much

Yours is the Earth and everything in it, & what is more

– You’ll be a Man my son! “

This is a poem which fundamentally expresses the process of the development of the self, in the face of both the trials and the successes, and coming out the other side more complete. This poem, and these lines especially are particularly poignant to me personally, while also serving to make the set of medals more easily accessible and understandable to the viewer giving the objects a context in order to decode the imagery and symbolism behind the keys.

Medal Process – Why no bronze for Formative

Initially when we were told at the beginning of the term that we will be having a formative assessment before we break up for the Christmas holidays, and that we will be expected to have a finished piece to show, when asked what I would be presenting my response was that I would have one medal finished by Christmas. I had decided from quite an early point in the project that I was aiming to create a set of medals for my final piece, most likely 5 (it is widely held that when creating multiples they work more effectively in groups of odd numbers), which would come together as a group to create the final piece but equally would stand on their merits as individual objects. Because of this, it made sense to aim to have one completed bronze medal out of the set prepared for Christmas.

However, I found that designing the medals took much longer than I had anticipated. Having done bronze casting in both the first and second year, especially last year during the BAMS project, I am very aware of what a long and involved process creating a bronze medal is, from conception to completion. Given that I have barely conceived a clear idea of the design of the final medals themselves, it seems over ambitious to aim to have a bronze medal for the Christmas assessment.

While I could potentially still get a bronze out for the Christmas assessment, it would take an awful lot of time and energy to be invested into the process, and I would need to start now which would mean working with a design that was nowhere near up to the standard I want it to be, and has the potential to change in almost every aspect by the time it gets to the final piece. Although I’m sure that having a bronze medal for Christmas would be of some use, especially in investigating the use of patination, it would be largely the same process I went through last year and so very little new would be learned from it.

In light of this, I feel that a much more achievable goal is to have a pewter cast of a medal for the Christmas assessment, as this only involves having a sculpted version of the medal (in wax or clay), then casting that into silicone and from that pouring in the pewter, which is a much more straight forward process. I will then have a physical and solid representation of the medal, which has more integrity and quiddity than simply a wax or an unglazed clay sculpted version.

Medal design ideas – Single medal

I have been very much focused so far on the idea of having a series of medals, which interact or interlock in some way. However, I am beginning to have doubts as to whether this detracts from the over all strength of the piece? Would it not be better to have my message so clear and crystalised that it can be expressed very powerfully in a single medal? Does having it spread over a series give each medal a lesser impact?

blue flower medals

Again, while I am not set on the idea of flowers as a motif, it is currently the best form of imagery I have to work with as an example. Here we can see my continued ideas of embedding ceramic into a bronze medal, with the ceramic surface being painted delicately and detailed with blue cobalt glaze in the style of classic ceramic pieces, against the polished surface of the bronze as a background. This difference in material between the bronze and ceramic gives the opportunity for creating a very clear silhouette of the image. In these examples the silhouette is kept either the same, so that when the medal is turned over horizontally it remains the same, or reversed so that it clearly is the back side and lines up with the front image. While these silhouettes would remain the same as the original image (potentially reversed, but otherwise the same) the image painted inside this silhouette would then be different between the front and reverse sides. In this example, on one side the flower is in full bloom, while on the reverse the branch is covered with unopened buds and leaves instead.

This is one of the qualities of the medal which is not available in other mediums, the ability to mirror itself. The two sided quality allows for a very particular dynamic to be made, a parralel or an inherent link being made between the two images rather than them being seen as separate. In my opinion it is often medals which make use of this quality that are the strongest. It allows for a form of pacing, a rhythm, in the handling, the turning over, the obeserving. It is also interesting that it forces the user to remember the previous image. Rather than having two images laid next to one another which can both be observed at the same time, a medal only allows the viewer to experience one side at a time, forcing you to hold  the first image in your mind while you observe the reverse face.

front and reverse detail contrast

It occured to me in my previous sketches that I was making little to no use of the background, other than a backdrop for the main image. Again, the interplay between the two sides of the medal is very important in my opinion, and perhaps this can be achieved through use of the background contrasted against the image in the foreground. Not only this, it gives a good demonstration and contrast between the two sides of the medal, with the smooth painted ceramic and the bronze which can be sculpted in relief and patinated, giving a contrast of texture as well as colour. I feel that this has the potential to be very visually appealing. Not only this, but it allows the development of narrative to be formed between the two sides, with new aspects being unveiled on the reverse side which were not evident initially; a look ‘behind the scenes’ as it were. This is something I touched on in a previous post, looking at artists who use the two sides of the medal in tandem with each other in order to progress a narrative.

While I think in some ways, having a single medal can be a very powerful piece, and is usually the standard format of the medal, I still find myself drawn to the idea of a series or a set of medals. This was something which even came through in my work last year, making a pair of medals, and I think it is linked to my enjoyment of the rhythym of medalsl and wanting to extend this across a series. Not just picking one medal up, turning it over, but then picking up the next, and turning that over, and the next after that. The unfolding of new information in order to form a larger narrative, and this keeps the viewer engaged for longer and gives them a curiousity to find out more. It cannot simply be glanced at and taken in, it needs to be experienced and considered by the user. Not only this, but if I am looking to express the building and development of self, I do not think that this is something I can capture in a set of two (or potentially three, using the side) images. It is an all too complex topic, which encorporates many different stages and experiences in life, rather than reducing it to simply a “before and after” image. While I am sure that it is entirely possibly to represent this level of complexity in a single medal, I certainly feel that the series expresses it more clearly, as well as playing to my own personal interest in a set of medals.

It is looking at the moment that I will indeed progress with making a series of medals, however, as with everything in this project, it is still open to change.

Medal design ideas – Transitioning image

I have spoken in my past couple of previous posts looking at medal design ideas about the idea of having a transitioning image. However, I have been unable to illustrate this clearly without an image or motif to work with. Despite this, I think in image I have had in the back of my mind as a reference and basis for my ideas is a piece by M. C. Escher


“Sky and Water” M. C. Escher

With this in mind, I tried to apply this to my medal designs as a reference to how my designs might work

escher fish transitions

As shown here, I envisage the imagery spreading across the surface of the medal, from one side to another, with the picture gradually changing. While each medal’s image might be quite distinct on its own (in this example, either of fish or of birds), when put together the overlap becomes much more obvious and shows a more subtle pattern emerging that might not be noticable at any given moment in time. In this way, I feel it is representative of the human being; at any one point in time a person may present themselves in a certain manner, their personality and their well-being. However, when looking back at points in their past (recent or much further) they may be near unrecognisable, as well as many transient phases in between these points.

fish medals

I then started thinking in terms of how this design would be applied practically, in terms of combining bronze and ceramic. The most practical solution I could think of was to have a bronze base for the medals, which then has the thinner porcelain layer embedded into the surface. This allows for each surface to have a combination of bronze and ceramic, as well as the oppotunity for the variety of textures between the two surfaces, and the ability to paint the ceramic with glaze. However, it does bring into question the aesthetic of the edge. Will it become very thick? Will it be visually unappealing having the ceramic cut into the surface of the bronze? Perhaps this could be covered up, with a ringed edge; but does this barrier then separate each medal from the next too obviously? Is the edge simply ignored, and acts as a means to an end for a practical purpose? These are all questions to contemplate, and that will hopefully become clearer as time goes on.

Medal design ideas – Stacking

Exploring the idea of having a transitioning image across the surface of a medal, or a series of medals, I made some sketches.

flower pattern medals

There are several elements to these sketches which I think are avenues with pursuing. I am finding designing medals with the mixed media of bronze and ceramic very interesting, and the change in surface through a continued image is something that could be very visually appealing. While I have used a (rough) blue and white flower pattern as means of illustrating the medals in these pictures, this is certainly not a fixed motif at this point and is used mainly as an example to demonstrate a layout or dynamic for the medals. There is also room here for exploration of texture, with one surface being purely illustrated, for example the ceramic surface being flat and painted, with the bronze surface then being carved in relief.

Another interesting idea to come out of these sketches is the element of stacking the medals. As I envision them here, the medals would have an image or motif which would travel across the faces of the medal, and onto the side surface. This side surface, when stacked atop the set of medals in a certain order would form an image of its own. Potentially, the medals could be stacked in a variety of ways creating a variety of different pictures telling separate narratives. Alternatively, the medals could have a particular order in which they are meant to be stack, and the image would only be revealed when put in this order.

While not necessary to the notion of stacking, one way in order to get the medals to stack together is to have them physically fit and interlock, through relief and imprint of surface. This guarantees that the medals are arranged at least a degree of order, facing in the same direction. If the surfaces were flat, they would each be able to be rotated, and if they could then also be stacked in any order this would likely create to many possibilities to be able to create any cohesive narrative or image. If this were the case, it would have to be made very clear which way the medals were supposed to face, and intuitive in how they were arranged.

Medal ideas – Blue Flower pattern

As 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 narrative. It has been suggested to me that I incorporate my drawing skills into my work with the medals this year, something which I have largely avoided up until this point and have kept the drawings purely in the form of sketchbook work as a means of planning ideas. Because of this I feel it is very likely that my medals will be illustrated in some form, and the combination of ceramic and bronze offers a good platform in which to do so, with the ceramic surface being prime for painting upon and exploring fine brush work.

While I certainly have an appreciation of ceramics, I have never done a huge amount of research into the area, and when I have it has been geared mostly towards individual artists, most of whom create sculptural work. However despite this, when thinking about illustrated ceramics the first image that comes to mind is the classic imagery of blue and white flower patterns on tableware, such as plates.

blue and white plates

An example of blue and white flower pattern on plates, sold here

blue and white flower pattern

classic pattern on fabric, sold here

With this in mind, I did a water colour sketch of a flower pattern, which I translated into blue and white, as a visual reference for myself.

flower pattern


In terms of imagery, I feel that flower pattern could be promising. One matter which I am certain of in my medal design which I am aspiring to, is that I do not want the imagery to be literal. The subject matter which I am trying to depict are the various different stages, states of being, elements of personality and experience that are formed throughout life. These are often formed gradually, changing from one state to another, reverting to earlier stages, mirroring and reflecting back and forth in an ever changing development. Because of this, I want my imagery to be something which is changeable and can transition and change across the medal or series of medals. I would like these images to be able to be interchanged in order to create different images or narratives (as discussed briefly in an earlier post) but carry a running theme or image throughout as a narrative carrier. However, in order to do this transitioning imagery I feel that the subject has to be something relatively ambiguous and fluid, with various different states of being which can be naturally interchanged.

In these terms, flowers could potentially work well. They have a range of states which can be used as an analogy for states of well-being in a person; budding, closed, flowering, blooming, wilting, etc which quite intuitively can be related to emotional states such as fragility, confidence, strength, personal growth, triumph and loss. Not only this but there is already a large wealth of history of flowers being used as symbols in art to represent a variety of subject matter. This combined with the tradition of blue and white flower print in ceramics could be an interesting avenue to explore, taking traditional decorative imagery and applying a deeper level of meaning and symbolism in order to change its function from decoration to narrative. I can also see the pattern transitioning well, having blooming and wilting flowers next to each other in a sequence that can be arranged in any sequence while still looking seamless and fluid.

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.