British artist Hannah Billingham shares a compelling collection of ceramic work created in her distinctive signature style. Visit her website to see more of her work.
My work consists of highly decorated ceramic forms, ranging from vases, jars, bowls and mugs to clocks, hanging ornaments and more. I work in both miniature and large scale. My smallest pieces are 1 to 2 cm high, and the largest around 40 cm (though always increasing in size as my studio expands).
I have a great passion for creating completely one-of-a-kind items. This has become an exceptionally important aspect of my practice.
The context and inspiration behind my work is mainly a response to my personal struggle with OCD tendencies, perfectionism and the desire to create. I push the materials I use to their boundaries to create sculptures which look like they have couldn’t have possibly been created by hand, and yet this is exactly the case. I strive to make pieces that evoke a reaction in the viewer through their precision and ethereal appearance.
I am of course inspired by the world around me, patterns in nature and forms both historic and contemporary. However, the main inspiration for the intricate designs I create are the patterns and shapes my subconscious creates when I’m deep in concentration.
One of the main things I love about working with ceramics is the variety of processes involved. Each piece I create is thrown on the potter’s wheel, turned, hand decorated, bisque fired and glaze fired. Some are painted with 24ct gold lustre and fired a third time.
I am most well-known for my symmetrical dotted patterns, where each dot is delicately piped freehand. The process is a laborious and repetitive discipline, and I thrive on it.
Glaze chemistry plays a huge part in my practice. I spend months testing and developing glazes from raw materials that enhance the patterned and textured quality of my hand decorated surfaces. I love the dramatic changes that occur when glazes are fired—both the visual and chemical aspects fascinate me.
There is always a certain level of unpredictability when firing glaze ware. This is a huge contrast from the rest of my processes. The combination of obsessive control in the first stages, and then surrendering to the fluctuating nature of firings keeps me completely transfixed. I am greatly satisfied when successful pieces emerge.
Unlike many artists who are formally trained, I entered the art scene at a different angle, being almost completely self-taught. I sell my work directly to clients online as well as working with galleries. I enjoy both for different reasons, and in many ways, I think being self-taught gives me an edge in my field.
In my five years as a practicing artist, I have been blessed with a number of awards, press, media and television features. I’ve made appearances in many local, national and international publications, such as magazines, newspapers and books. In 2019 and 2020 I appeared on two of channel 4’s craft programmes, demonstrating my work and practice. My most recent award, “Ceramic Artist of the Year” presented by Yorkshire Prestige Awards was an honour to receive.