This month dot-art speaks to local ceramist Janet Holmes who has exhibited and taught on the Wirral and nationally for over 40 years.
Celebrating the creative diversity of clay and the individuality of the potter, Janet’s pieces look away from the uniformity of mass production, towards individual, unique, one of kind creations.
Which medium do you work with and how would you describe your work?
I work with ceramics and I would describe my work as sculptural ceramic, abstract expression.
Can you talk us through your process? Do you begin with a sketch, or do you just go straight in? How long do you spend on one piece? How do you know when it is finished?
Usually, when I start a sculptural piece, I have ideas and visuals in my head and I know which sculptural clay I will use. There are six different types of clay that I use and the type of clay I start with does greatly influence the creative process. Starting with a flat piece of clay for the base, this can be moulded into any shape. Coils of clay are attached by blending the clay down into the base and then the coils below. I find coiling clay is very hypnotic, and a form of meditation.
While coiling and creating the piece, my emotions, at the time of making, influence the flow of the making process. I am very aware of the balance of the shape, space it inhabits as well as overall form. The creating of the piece can take a few days, getting the right finish and texture. Using the texture of the clay adds to the overall finish.
Then the firing process, which is pure alchemy, using oxides to enhance the finish. Many times I leave the clay pure, allowing the light to define the movement in the piece.
When did you begin your career in art?
I have managed to work with ceramics, teaching and creating throughout my entire adult life. In the last nine years, I have run the Rathbone Studio which has allowed me to exhibit, create and teach pottery workshops.
Who or what inspires your art?
Everything around me. Nature and natural forms. Many, many artists and sculptors, Picasso, Hepworth, Matisse, Moore started my love of form. Views of mountain ranges, trees, well all nature really, my allotment, all things that relax and settle my mind, then the ideas start.
Why is art and creativity so important to you?
It is who I am. A simple as that.
What does it mean to be an artist in the Liverpool City Region?
Being an artist in the Liverpool City Region is exciting, being surrounded by so much original and creative work is wonderful!
What are you working on at the moment?
A commission of Letters, all made by the same process but each very different, I’m using different clays for each Letter and different decoration effects so each is completely unique.
What’s the best advice that was given to you as an artist?
Keep believing in yourself, you are unique.