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Kathryn Hearn

In 2016 she stepped down from a full time post of 26 years as Course Director for the BA (Honours) Ceramic Design Course and Subject Leader for the MA Design: Ceramics at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. She is now a full time ceramic artist and maker but occasionally teaching on both the MA & BA but also supervising doctoral students.

Her current work reflects the new relationship to the Fens where she now lives. The ancient managed landscape with its wide-open spaces and extraordinary colours, hues and textures have provided a design opportunity to use traditional ceramic skills and qualities in a more immediate and visceral way.

Hearn explores the nature of the contemporary in relation to the natural by her hand building of flax paper porcelain to create bowls and vessels. This innovative clay technology allows the forms to be constructed with components that are tenuously connected, creating, a risky impression but they are also grounded in a dynamic visual language that continues her abiding interest with the repetitive motif, reflecting the highly managed environment. It includes the use of small strata cast coloured inclusions, which is the technique she has been known for since 1972.

The land and skyscapes of the Fens are extraordinary. She has reacted to this rural terrain using glazes and colour to both obliterate, as the weather constantly does, but also to reveal the subtlety and startling industrial panoramas available to her.  The use of porcelain helps to provide detailed definition with textures and marks, though the pulling of the clay and the tension and weight in the different thicknesses in sections of the ‘straps’ she builds with. This process creates a sense of drama and ‘walking on a tightrope’ as the clay in both the building and the firing may slightly slump, which reflects the reality of the farmers skills in the fields where they ‘just get on with it’ and make the processes work without trying to be too highly refined.

This dialogue with the clay and the visual language which emerges is enhanced by the use of a glutinous dolomite glaze which she allows to be both thick or thin with oxide or underglaze additions.

 

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