Katharine Morling: The Art of Sculptural Ceramics

By Oliver Burns

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August 22, 2016|Guest Editorials

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  • ward-winning artist Katharine Morling skillfully uses the medium of ceramics to craft figurative and narrative works of art. Since setting up her studio in 2003, Katharine has achieved international acclaim for her unique pieces, which she describes as three dimensional sketches. Drawing from a rich depository of personal experiences, her work explores everything from the utilitarian to the fantastical. With an extensive CV including numerous international solo shows, representing the UK at the 2010 European Ceramic Context in Denmark and being the inspiration for a contemporary dance piece commissioned by the Royal Opera House, Katharine is enjoying professional success. In this blog, we explore the creative process behind her thoughtfully crafted works of art.
Image via Katharine Morling

This year, a new edition of the Chair Maquette series is to be showcased at The Royal Academy’s prestigious Summer Exhibition. Reflecting on this achievement, Katharine acknowledges the level of exposure a show of this status affords: ‘the Summer Exhibition is a wonderful platform for artists, introducing your work to a new and diverse audience.’ The concept of this piece originated from her MA show at the Royal College of Art in 2009. Undaunted by scale, she created a life size installation comprised of a table, chairs and a procession of toys and animals captured in a surreal still life; this room crafted entirely out of ceramic was later acquired by a private collector. The installation was later shown at 2010 World Crafts Council Triennial in Belgium where it went on to win first prize. Katharine’s fearless attitude to large scale projects reflects our own ambitious approach when faced with challenging briefs in order to exceed the expectations of our discerning clients.

Image via Katharine Morling

The construction of these larger and more challenging pieces requires a high level of technical precision. It is  necessary to consider the inner structure of seemingly solid pieces, and allow for long drying periods, often of several months to make sure that the clay dries slowly and evenly to avoid cracking. The work is then fired to a bisque temperature of 1000°, at which point the black lines are painted on and then the piece is re-fired to 1260°. In this way, highly stylised sketches of quotidian objects are translated into 3D objects; a technique which she describes as like ‘drawing on air’ making a steady hand a necessity. The finished unglazed porcelain has a matte and fragile quality reminiscent more of icing or sheets of paper than clay. This commitment to creating something exceptional which will be treasured for years to come, are qualities which underpin our own craft as we design and build the world’s finest homes.

Image via Katharine Morling

The artwork functions on multiple levels; the monochromatic palette provides a blank slate on which the viewer is able to explore their own memories, evoking highly personal responses. The sculptures are drawings which you can walk around, inviting the viewer to step inside the mind of the artist. By giving her sketches form, she creates a tableau made up of some of her most personal memories. While many of pieces of work will refer to a specific memory or theme, often she acknowledges that sometimes the true meaning of a work is not clear until after the piece has been finished and even sold.

Image via Katharine Morling

A true modern storyteller, the works of Katharine Morling are autobiographical masterpieces which offer endless interpretation.

Chair Maquette is available to buy from the Royal Academy in a limited edition of 200.

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