Since its inception in 1992, the Institute of Ceramic Studies has provided an opportunity for ceramic artists from around the world to work freely in the environment of Shigaraki.
My time at SCCP has been one of discovery. I have always been interested in involving more than one sense when we encounter a work of art as it enables the viewer to have an alternative sensory experience.
While living in Japan on the residency, I noticed different sounds from those at home and wondered how I could keep that memory alive after I returned. I cycled everywhere while in Shigaraki, so I went out on my bicycle and recorded some of the local sounds with my iPhone; the sounds of the one carriage train, the birds, the frogs at night time and the delicate sound of the gong at the shrine.
I wondered how could I incorporate those sounds into the pieces I was making at that time. I thought if I added a QR Code, which were invented in Japan in 1994, on a ceramic piece which led to the sound recording, it would allow the viewer to play the sounds from their smart phones. I brought the idea to the Shigariki Ceramic Research Institute and they printed ceramic decals for the codes that I had created. I fired them onto the vessels at 800C and was delighted to find that they worked.
I have previously created tactile work for those who are visually impaired and this will add another dimension to the experience of exploring art. These vessels were test pieces but here is huge potential to develop this process, and one I will explore further at my studio in Ireland.
The Institute was thrilled that I was using another Japanese innovation on a new, innovative piece developed in Shigaraki. The Museum of Contemporary Ceramic Art has taken the piece The Shigaraki Sound Vessel for their permanent collection. You may listen to the sounds of Shigaraki here.
Another piece of mine, created in Shigaraki, There Must Be An Answer has also been acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Ceramic Art and is now in their permanent collection. This is part of a series of work I have been exploring for some time - social commentary on issues that interest me.
My work always tells a story, the narrative often being a social or political comment on current issues in Ireland at a given time. The housing problem is all consuming at this point in time, as we do not have enough houses for people to live in. Having a place to call home dictates everything about how we live our lives, where we work, how we work and where we raise a family. The dilemma is, if there are no houses, are we forced to emigrate?
The Oxford dictionary definition for "all-consuming" is “completely filling one’s mind and attention”; I think this piece says it all!
This piece was another that I worked on during the residency and is titled There Must Be An Answer II