When you search the word ceramics in the thesaurus, these are the synonyms that appear: tableware, pots, crockery, terra cotta. These terms are uncomplicated and straight to the point. They accurately describe the vases that hold flowers and the bowls, bowls, and more bowls you see when browsing through a home décor store. Then again, if the thesaurus met artist Katharine Morling, it would probably malfunction. Because her work is utterly radical.
Morling’s signature, monochromatic pieces of art look as though they were pulled out from a 2D sketchbook. These drawings, under the artist’s expert supervision, seem to have undergone an unexplainable metamorphosis that resulted in a 3D finished product. That’s just how extraordinary Morling’s work is, causing you to ask one monosyllabic question when you come across her ceramics: “How?”
Yes, we definitely want to know how the artist does what she does because our eyes are wide open while our minds are perplexed. That’s why we reached out to Morling for a quick interview. She kindly agreed and allowed us to explore her sculptural world…
HelloGiggles (HG): Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Katharine Morling (KM): I live in Greenwich in South London and love walking along the beach of the Thames near my house; I often go there and collect small objects or rusty things that look interesting. I’ve been working in ceramics since 2003 when I graduated from Falmouth College of Art.
HG: I read that your work is inspired by your personal narrative. Why is this combination important to you?
KM: All of my work is about me expressing my emotions and having that creative outlet. By making work, which is so personal to me, I can truly explore it and this gives the piece a greater integrity.
HG: Your signature black-and-white pieces started out as sketches, right? How did you bring these sketches to life as ceramics?
KM: Everything starts off as a quick sketch. Often, I just spend 5 minutes trying to put to paper all of my ideas. Then, I will go back and choose the idea which speaks to me the most.
If I am making a large piece, I will make a small maquette [a sculptor’s initial model or sketch] to work out the ethnical logistics. For example, sometimes there needs to be an inner structure to stabilize the work.
I slab and hand build all of my work. For large pieces such as a chair, I will make it out of an earth stone and then cover that with a special porcelain slip. All of the smaller works are made in porcelain. The work is then fired to set the shape. I then paint on black oxide and fire the work again.
HG: Are there any themes, motifs, or symbols that you find yourself returning to time and time again?
KM: I used to be quite obsessed with domestic objects and was making a lot of stationary and artistic materials. I then began to branch out into animals and recently I have been creating a lot of figures; which is the direction I am working in presently.
HG: Since the moment I first discovered you, I’ve felt an intense connection to your Boom (boom box) creation. Can you tell us anything more about this stunning piece?
KM: The piece is about being a young kid in the ’80s surrounded by the paraphernalia of the music, roller skating, and hanging around. I wanted to make something very reminiscent of that time.
HG: What advice would you give to those who want to follow a similar path in life?
KM: Go for it! Enjoy yourself and work hard.
HG: You cope with severe dyslexia. How has this affected your work as an artist?
KM: I think that being dyslexic makes me think in a more visual and spatial way and maybe look at things slightly differently. Words have always been a minefield to me, so I had to get creative and find ways around things and I have been doing this my entire life.
HG: And just for fun, what is your favorite color?