I am a botanical plaster craft practitioner and innovator. I work with plant, plaster and pigment. The bit of me that finds expression in my craft is what is unique about it. I am a plant obsessive and revel in the beauty of the natural world.
My work explores the concepts of nature and utopia, landscapes, the garden and agriculture as the foundations of civilization, the relationship between light and life, and the fragility of ecological systems. It also explores themes of love and loss and lived life experiences.
I work initially with plaster, which is viewed and experienced by means of reflected and incidental light. My plaster work is then translated
into different media such as acrylic resin, acrylic composite and wax. I create botanical casts in various media that seek to capture the
ephemeral beauty, intelligence and struggles of the natural world and the essence of a place. Poured into voids in softly yielding clay,
once occupied by some Sea Purslane, wood anemone or cow parsley, liquid plaster sets, warm to the touch. Expanding ever so slightly,
it captures the most infinitesimal botanical detail. I may then translate this plaster cast into another media or use original plaster. Some casts call for colour, others for the play of reflected light and shadow alone, and yet others for the glorification of gilding.
I am motivated in my art by an attempt to arrest decay, and to capture and hold still in a two-dimensional representation the life force of
nature. More than this, I wish to capture in nature’s twisting, branching and flowering, a reflection of human patterns of thought and imagination. Plaster captures the ephemeral but is friable and delicate while presenting a solid mass – an illusion and metaphor for
our own lifecycles. Transformed further into wax or resin, an afterlife is created.
What craft do you work with?
|I am a botanical bas-relief artist. I saw an image of this craft and through experimentation, discovered how to replicate it. I have worked with this craft for the past six years. I cannot say that I have a favourite technique. I think if I was pressed, I would say the next one I am to discover!
What inspires you to work with this craft?
|I love the immediacy of the craft – how it captures the architecture of the plants, their hidden details. This craft matters because it transforms the mundane and invisible into the decorative, worthy of display, worship and appreciation. I love using sticky clay and silky plaster and scrathy plants.
How do you start your creative process?
|I walk and I read. I read about the history of mythology, of our interaction and attitudes towards the natural world. I think about these things and let them percolate through my thought processes to create a message I wish to communicate. I think the most enjoyable part is revealing the work when the bed of clay it is resting in is removed. That is a moment of great satisfaction. The physicality of the work can be challenging – lifting bags of plaster and clay and rolling it out. But it is something one gets used to too.
How would you best describe your workspace and what tools could you not do without?
|My workspace is an 18th century stone barn accessed up a small flight of stone steps. It is beside a river in the garden county of Ireland, county Wicklow. Originally part of a mill, it houses me, my studio and various four-legged friends, some of whom are uninvited but welcome nonetheless. I could not do without my rolling pin, my tweezers and my magnifying glass.
Are there new techniques you would like to try?
Most definitely. I am particularly interested in glass casting at the moment.
What have you learnt or the best advice you have received that you would like to share with fellow crafters?
|I have always found that being open and communicative about my craft has been a positive experience that repays the sharer in multiple ways. I would love to collaborate with glass and ceramic artists. It is my professional dream to found an experimental craft laboratory. One where people who work creatively with materials collaborate to produce the most amazing hybridizations.
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