Marion Kennedy - Plumtree Ceramics
I am based near Edinburgh, Scotland. I studied MA (Hons) Fine Art at Edinburgh University which included practical studio work at Edinburgh College of Art where I studied drawing, painting, print-making and sculpture. I was taught to throw on a wheel by my Dad and have learned from other potters over the years at workshops and classes.
I make thrown stoneware and raku pots, bowls and vases. With the stoneware, most greenware pieces are hand burnished before biscuit firing in an electric kiln. The biscuit ware is then fired again in a sawdust kiln to give the finished effect. I sometimes use slip as a resist for the sawdust firing to give the surface a more defined pattern.
The overall effect I'm trying to create with the stoneware is natural and simple. I like to make surfaces smooth like beach pebbles or rougher like artefacts uncovered at an archaeological dig. I prefer not to use glazes which hide the clay but keep the natural clay surface so the pots are warmer to the touch. Rather than encase the pots in a hard, glassy, glazed shell the burnished surface gives the pots a slight sheen. The final sawdust firing gives the surface a finish which I have little control over and is left to the fire and smoke to create.
With the raku pieces, the pots are fired to biscuit in an electric kiln. Once cooled and glazed they are brought to temperature then taken from the kiln red hot and put in to covered containers of sawdust and other combustible materials. When taken from the sawdust they are than plunged in to cold water to create the final finish. At this stage the pots are noisy – hissing, whistling and spitting with the sudden change of temperature. With the raku firing the often iridescent and shiny glaze and the matte-black of the unglazed fired clay create an interesting contrast of texture and colour.
Each stoneware and raku piece is unique depending on the effect the heat, flames, smoke and water have on the clay and glaze.
I love the feel of clay and how plastic it is. Opening the clay out and closing it again is like a mouth forming silent words. The terms we use about pots - body, neck, shoulder, foot – also make them very human.