Ceramacist Rose Bates fell in love with clay after exploring almost every other creative form she could imagine.
“Weaving, chair caning, cake decorating and more – there was always something missing, all fun but short lived and none left a desire to carry on,” she says. “In 1992, a friend persuaded me to take GCSE Art and Design at our local Adult Education Centre. As chance would have it, as well as being an accomplished artist, our tutor’s real expertise was in ceramics. Handling clay with its versatile properties and endless artistic possibilities, I was hooked.”
Rose stayed on to study Art and Design A-level, Art and Design A-level 3D, and spent four years gaining a City and Guilds Ceramics in Hampshire and Sussex.
“City & Guilds invites complete commitment and discipline towards your subject, a challenge for a Gemini like myself, used to flitting from one idea to another,” she says. “Initially, there was heavy emphasis on drawing and designing projects, with no contact with clay. During the four years, I was pushed to become competent in throwing, glaze making, hand-building and so on, as well as designing my own pieces of work from start to finish.”
In the midst of this, several techniques gradually came to the fore. “The excitement of creating my own glazes, with the mixing and sifting of oxides seemed like alchemy with a hint of danger, especially as some elements are highly toxic in the raw state,” she says. “Choosing a tricky glaze to create seemed a good idea, although choosing macro crystalline glazes was risky. This technique requires perfect balance between mixing the right ingredients and managing the temperature of the kiln in order for crystals to grow. Get it wrong and you are left with a perfectly good shiny glaze – but no crystals.”
During this time, Rose also “rediscovered the art of fire. Having nearly set a hillside on fire at the age of nine in Kent while cooking sausages in a frying pan, I finally had a legitimate use of tinder. RAKU `Happiness by Chance’ is the ancient Japanese technique of firing bowls for tea ceremonies and today offers endless attractive surfaces on pots and sculpture.”
Rose particularly enjoys “fashioning a lump of clay into something hopefully attractive (sometimes useful) and lasting, as well as finding new colour in glaze. I have also entered a world full of dynamic artist friends, uncovered opportunities to travel and to hold classes in my studio, gathering students as local education colleges close down vocational subjects.”
Her work is driven by the desire to “find new ways to express art in clay, using folk art of world cultures, the natural world and the human body.”
To contact Rose, email bates4crystal(at)btinternet.com.
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