Ceramic Houses by Rowena Brown
A fantastic short film by Ian Skelly on London based ceramic artist Rowena Brown, who’s a very talented maker indeed. I’ve known about Rowena’s works for a long time but it’s through fantastic videos like this that we get the chance to see the real process behind the objects. In my opinion, when you know the face of the person who’s producing, the reasons why they’re doing it, and also the different stages that the item goes through, you feel very much attached to them in some way or another. In fact, I’m just going to reserve one now for my own desk where the building can sit quietly and beautifully.
I don’t really want to spoil the film too much, as the whole process from start to finish is documented nicely in the video below, but Rowena’s initial inspiration was the idea of abandonment. You can see this quite clearly on her ideas wall in her studio where she’s stuck pictures up of the aftermath of disaster, where the home is exposed. Thinking about it this is a very interesting subject to delve into, the way in which a house is a private and safe place, but after an environmental disaster that whole concept is totally shattered.
Firstly, she makes them solid by carving the houses into shape. They’re bisque fired, coloured and then part glazed, on the final stage she Raku fires them by getting them up to around 900°C and places each one separately in a combustible material (sawdust) to react with the glaze. The water stops the chemical reactions of the glaze and the smoke stains the unglazed portions of the pottery black, also the cracks for added effect. This is a perfect example of when to use a technique like this in a piece of work, it makes a lot of sense and you get some interesting results. Each one is truly unique!
Overall, all of these houses go through an amazing journey, one that you’d definitely attach yourself to if you owned a piece. This is just one video by Ian Skelly that I’ve picked out, but he’s also documented a few more individuals on his portfolio page that are certainly worth viewing. Rowena herself is situated on the Row Boat London website, linked below, and has plenty more items like this for sale. I hope you enjoy this fantastic video.