About Me

My sculpture

I am a ceramic sculptor with an interest in the dynamic rhythmic shapes found in the female body and in natural organic forms such as shells and bones. I love colour, energy and vivacity, and enjoy forms that move, that spiral round, that are rhythmic and expressive.

My work has a strong grounding in the natural world but explores elements of abstraction. It is not naturalistic but is drawn from the natural world. I frequently use colour and tone to enhance the form, but very recently has been experimenting with colour that is stronger and more expressive, so that the sculpture has a feel of a three-dimensional painting. 

Very recently I have begun to try to bring the strength and personal quality I feel in my Figures together with the rhythmic curves and flowing movement I achieved in the Abstracts. I want to increase the vivacious expressive qualities and explore a more dynamic approach to colour. I am excited by the idea of colour which is based in nature but is free to reinvent itself. What could that mean?

You will find more of my work on my Instagram page which is where I post my current pieces:  Eilean_Eland_Sculptor

Figures

My main focus recently has been the female form. I think this is maybe an expression of personal identity, self portraits to some degree, as I reach back to some earlier sculptural pieces I made during the 1970s and 1980s. I have always been inspired by the ancient female forms, generally referred to as ‘Venuses’ when they were discovered by Victorian (male) archaeologists. I think of these sculptures rather as embodiments of womanly experience and was thrilled to see the analysis in the 2013 exhibition at the BM Ice Age Art, which confirmed my view. My work is not about the male gaze, but about the internal experience of being a woman. Much of this experience embodies physical change. We are so used to thinking of the female nude as seen by men (‘venus’) that it is difficult to move beyond this. So to begin with I was struggling! But enjoying the struggle! Which was always more about the underlying concepts than the actual forms. Now I feel a great deal more confident about working from the inside out to produce female forms, echoes of myself.

Like everyone else, I didn’t go out a lot during lockdown. And maybe because of the internal focus I began to think more clearly about what my female figures are about. It’s quite clear that they are statements about strong women, but in addition, as a woman, my figures are made from a lived perspective. I live in my inspiration. My own body acts as the reference point for my work. I find if I don’t know quite how to do something, I take up the position and see how the forms work. So I work from an internalised, subjective knowledge, rather than from an external objective position. This is a strong standpoint, one that makes a statement about living in the world as a witness to events. My figures have both symbolic agency, the power to act, and also the capacity to observe, analyse and bear witness, especially where agency is not possible. These are important matters to me, and I feel confident to articulate them and to express them in my female forms.

Abstract Forms

Earlier, I was working on tall standing forms that seemed to be about growth and change. I found that forms liked growing out of each other and sculptures had quite a strong botanical feel. I used a lot of yellow. My work always privileges form over surface, and I want the surface to enhance the form, rather than act as a carrier for it. I’m a sculptor after all!  So I use slips and oxides to increase the dramatic potential of the three dimensional elements. I sometimes use a slip I make from the clay (which comes from a pre-historic forest) on Westward Ho! beach to give a sense of place and to ground the work in both place and time. In a personal way, the sculptures embody experience of change, re-growth and the reinvigoration of identity. They are strong statements.

During 2017-18, I found my tall forms were curving and turning and becoming full of movement and a strong sense of the coast was emerging. The yellows, blacks and neutrals suddenly changed to blues and greens after discussions with friends who found the surface colour detracted from the form. Not what I wanted! I suddenly had a vision of a set of blue sculptures and had to refire them all to achieve it. But I was happy with the result. The work seemed to have a clearer identity and the new blues and greens have wonderful resonances. My studio overlooks the sea, and I spend a lot of time looking at it, so this all makes sense to me.

 

Exhibitions 2016 – 2024

2024

31st January – March 3rd Art Upstairs, Bideford, The Year of the Dragon

5th – 18th April. Esprit  at the Malthouse Gallery, Town Mill, Lyme Regis, with Lisa Parkyn

24th May – 30th September, Stone Lane Sculpture Gardens, Dartmoor

2023

1st April – 14th May.  Westward Ho! and Bideford Art Society, Burton Art Gallery and Museum, Bideford

17th – 29th June – Responses at the Malthouse Gallery, Town Mill, Lyme Regis, with Lisa Parkyn

22nd July – 12th August – Studio Kind Summer Open, Braunton, Devon

29th July – 10th September – Openings, Artmakers Art Upstairs Gallery, Bideford, Devon

9th – 24th September Devon Open Studios

18th November  – 17th December – Winter Lights, ArtmakersUK Art Upstairs, Bideford.

2022

On-going  Vandlys Galleri, Exeter

26th March-7th April. Echoes at the Malthouse Gallery, Town Mill, Lyme Regis, with Lisa Parkyn

7th April – 13th June. Green Hill Arts Open Exhibition, Moretonhampstead, Devon

28th May – 23 July FRESH Devon Artist Network at Thelma Hulbert Gallery Honiton

1st July – 31st October Stone Lane Sculpture Gardens, Dartmoor

10th – 25th September Devon Open Studios

2021

13th March – 9th May  Westcountry Potters at Devon Guild, Bovey Tracey

12th April – 8th May  Small Works Exhibition, Artizan Gallery, Torquay (Lucius Street)

15th April –      Vandlys Galleri, Exeter

17th May – July 4th – Westward Ho! and Bideford Arts Society 99th Annual Exhibition

5th – 18th June – North Devon Arts Summer Exhibition

10th-12th September Craft Festival at Devon Guild with Westcountry Potters

29th November – 7th January 2022 – Into the Light. Art Makers UK virtual exhibition (artmakers.uk)

18th November – 30th January 2022 – Thrown Contemporary Winter Exhibition (throwncontemporary.co.uk)

2020

16th May – 31st December Westward Ho! and Bideford 98th Annual Exhibition Online part one

1st September – 31st December December Westward Ho! and Bideford 98th Annual Exhibition Online part two (whobidarts.co.uk)

12 September – 27th September The Sculpture Studio Artizan Gallery Torquay

2 November – 3 January 2021. Bath Society of Artists 115th Open Exhibition online

4 November – 31 December South West Academy of Fine and Applied Arts. Exhibition 0nline. Guest Judge (Joseph Hillier) Prize

7 December – 20 December North Devon Arts and Studio KIND, Braunton

2019

7th Dec – 5th Jan 2020: RHS Rosemoor Learning Centre (with Richard Meyer)

17th Oct – 16th Nov: Black Swan Arts Open 2019, Frome

10th Aug – 27th Sept: North Devon Arts at Joy Street, Barnstaple (with Richard Meyer)

6th July – 10th Aug: Westward Ho! and Bideford Arts Society 97th Annual Exhibition

30th June: Clay: A Festival of Ceramics, Barnstaple. Devon Pop Ups

1st/2nd June: Coombe Trenchard English Garden Garden Festival

27th April – 8th May: Devon Artists Network, Harbour House Spring Exhibition, Kingsbridge

2nd April – 1st May: North Devon Arts at White Moose, Barnstaple

2018

7th June – 10 June: Contemporary Craft Fair, Bovey Tracey, with Westcountry Potters

1st July: Clay: A Festival of Ceramics, Barnstaple. Devon Pop Ups

11th Aug – 15th Sept: Westward Ho! and Bideford Arts Society, Bideford. 96th Open Exhibition

1st Sept – 7th Oct: RHS Rosemoor Learning Centre (with Richard Meyer)

14th Sept – 30th Sept: Art Trek, North Devon Open Studios

29th Sept – 14th Oct: Westcountry Potters Exhibition, RHS Rosemoor

2017

22nd Jan – 25th Feb: North Devon Arts, Broomhill Art Hotel, Muddiford

27th May – 1st July: Westward Ho! and Bideford Art Society, 95th Annual Open Exhibition

25th June: Clay, A Festival of Ceramics, Bideford. Devon Pop Ups

15th Sept – 1 Oct: Art Trek, North Devon Open Studios

3rd Nov – 7th Jan 2018: Kunsthuis Contemporary Art Gallery, North Yorkshire; Shades of Clay

18th Nov – 18th Feb 2018: RHS Rosemoor Winter Sculpture Exhibition

2016

22nd Oct – 12 Nov: Harbour House Open Exhibition, Yellow

9th Sept – 1st Oct: Plough Arts Centre, with Richard Meyer, Unquiet Life

9th Sept – 9th Oct: Artists Showcase, Jill Rousseau Gallery, Bideford

10th Sept – 25th Sept: Art Trek, North Devon Open Studios

 

 

Background

I completed a degree in Fine Art (Sculpture) in 1967 and during the last year was selected to exhibit in the Young Contemporaries Exhibition at the Tate Gallery. I exhibited in and around London for twelve years, including at South Hill Park, Bracknell where I built a large play sculpture, while teaching at Holland Park Comprehensive School, the ILEA Cockpit Arts Workshop in Marylebone and the National Portrait Gallery.

In 1980, I took up a lectureship in Museum Studies at Leicester University. I established a ceramic sculpture studio in the Department of Adult Education and taught there for a while, but my main effort went into building Museum Studies as a discipline, eventually becoming Head of Department, Professor (Hooper-Greenhill) and founding Director of the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG). My books include Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge, Museum and Education: Purpose, Pedagogy, Performance, The Educational Role of the Museum (ed), Museums and the Interpretation of Visual Culture, and Cultural Diversity: Developing Museum Audiences in Britain. I enjoyed this work a lot, but I didn’t get much time to develop my art practice!

I moved to Devon in 2006 while continuing to work for the University for the next two years. During this time the Department of Museum Studies at Leicester was judged by the QAA Research Assessment Exercise to be the best performing department of all departments in all subjects in the whole of the UK!!!! Amazing and wonderful, and I am thrilled that now very many of my Museum Studies colleagues are Professors themselves. Really the best legacy you could wish for!

Since then, I have been loving the quiet experience of working in my studio by the sea as I reconstruct my identity as an artist. I have gradually and slowly worked out, through the making, what it is I want to do. It hasn’t been fast, but I have had a few successes along the way: I was awarded Second Prize in the South West Academy for Fine and Applied Art (SWAc) Open Exhibition 2013, Exeter, for one of my small female porcelain figures (Ice Age Matron 2) and the Visiting Judge’s prize in the online open SWAC show in 2020 with one of my Lockdown Ladies. I exhibited at Gloss Gallery in Exeter until it closed in early 2015, was elected as an exhibiting member of the Westward Ho! and Bideford Art Society in 2017, and have had work at exhibited at Portland Gallery in Ilfracombe, West Down Sculpture Gardens, Bradworthy, and Jill Rousseau Gallery, Bideford, where I was one of her first Artist Showcase artists. I was Chair of Appledore Arts from 2011-2013,  Chair of North Devon Arts from 2015-21, and currently am part of the management Gallery Group at Art Upstairs, ArtmakersUK new gallery in Bideford.  I am delighted to have formed a strong artistic partnership with painter Lisa Parkyn through our exhibitions at the Malthouse Gallery, Town Mill, Lyme Regis.