Helen Shackleford

BA (Hons) Ceramics & Glass

Theme

I am a ceramic artist, inspired by the possibilities clay has of creating form and pattern. I love throwing as a way of creating controlled, smooth vessels with handmade qualities, which I slice and re-assemble to explore geometrical shape. This creates faces to the forms yet still embraces the natural process of using ceramic processes alongside clay. My focus has always been on how a form may be transformed to create multi-faceted vessels with surface decoration to accentuate this.

I aspired to make work that reflected my interest in the patterns, colours and shapes from the Art Deco period, such as the decorative designs of Clarice Cliff’s work. This motivated me to come up with my own way of adding decoration, where I explore using paper stencils to add crispness and precision to my patterns. I enjoy exploring colour, where vibrant underglazes and slips on terracotta clay stand out the most. I like to high fire my work to give this rich colour of terracotta clay, and adding a shiny glaze enhances this.

My pattern is specifically inspired by the architecture of the Art Deco period, where I developed my primary research and created sketches drawing from architectural features from shapes of buildings. This provided context for my work, reflecting on ceramics historically as well as architectural design. My work is similar to that of other crafts people, yet its contextual theme would allow it to sit in a gallery space. I explore more than just form but also more than just pattern, which is why I was so passionate to make a body of work that combines the beauty of both processes. My intention is to show how traditional processes and themes can be developed into contemporary design with new production methods, without leaving behind history.

I use my Instagram @helens_craft to promote my work, not only showing imagery of some final pieces but also the process behind the production method.  I particularly like the use of reels to highlight this process, the satisfaction of peeling off the stencils to reveal my designs is something I love to catch on camera.

The endless possibilities of forming and decorating inspires me to continue making and exploring process and material.

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Helen Shackleford | Crafts 1
Architecture of the Deco
Helen Shackleford | Crafts 5
Unilever House (left) & Daily Telegraph and Unilever (right) // 2022 // red earthenware clay, stencilled designs, slip & underglaze colour, clear earthenware glaze
Helen Shackleford | Crafts 4
Odeon Leicester Square// 2022 // red earthenware clay, stencilled designs, slip & underglaze colour, clear earthenware glaze
Helen Shackleford | Crafts 3
Savoy Hotel (left) & Oxo Tower (right) // 2022 // red earthenware clay, stencilled designs, slip & underglaze colour, clear earthenware glaze
Helen Shackleford | Crafts 2
From left to right: Savoy Hotel, Oxo Tower & Odeon Leicester Square // 2022 // red earthenware clay, stencilled designs, slip & underglaze colour, clear earthenware glaze
Helen Shackleford | Crafts
Daily Telegraph and Unilever // 2022 // red earthenware clay, stencilled designs, slip & underglaze colour, clear earthenware glaze