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Pick of the month - Denise O'Sullivan

28 April 2015
Every month we feature a ‘Pick of the month’ from the Gift Shop on the shop page of the website, but we wanted to know more about the suppliers of the beautiful arts and crafts, jewellery and handmade products that we stock in our Shop. So, we decided to introduce a monthly blog feature to get to know them. This month’s pick is 'Denise O'Sullivan Ceramics' Read on to find out more.

Can you tell us a little more about your work?

I design and make distinctive ceramic forms and shapes, finished with exquisite surfaces.
I create surface decoration with multiple firings and a mixture of stained clays, glaze, screen print and metallic finishes.  Forms are designed and made in ways that reflect my background in handmade, industrial and sculptural ceramics techniques and processes that I enjoy fusing together. I enjoy creating statement ceramic wares both functional and decorative, which bring energy to interiors and surfaces alike.

What’s the inspiration behind your designs?

My work is inspired by my love of past and contemporary couture, lifestyles, celebrities and eras. Fusing together classic imagery for example from the 1950’s with bold contemporary forms.
Classic themes that run through my work include kitsch, iconic imagery of flamingos, kisses, skulls and the English rose.

Potters and Designers who inspire me include:
Robert Arneson (USA), Viola Frey (USA), Carole Windham (UK), Richard Slee (UK), Leopold Fouled (Canada), Eduardo Palazzo (UK), Glens Barton (UK) and Ruth Duckworth (Germany/UK/USA)
 
As we have Damien Hirst: New Religion showing at the moment we have chosen a skull them for our display in the gift shop. What made you use skulls within some of your designs?

I first sketched a skull after watching Michael Jackson’s ‘Ghosts’ short film, where he posed as a dancing skeleton.  I experimented with skulls and started to put together an image that would tell a story about the iconic celebrity.
I took reference from tattoo design, sacred shrines, fashion and music styles (rockabilly, punk and metal) that depicted skull imagery. It was important to create an image that felt sacred and precious. Using 24 Ct. gold or platinum on the ceramics was vital to the finished product, to give the works a presence.
 I called the work ‘Death by Music’ that depicted the skull wearing head phones(similar to a childhood image of Michael Jackson), sitting on a crown of love with angel wings to the side of the crown, allowing him to fly free like a bird.  
I believed that Michael’s talents would someday be swallowed up by the music industry and later that year the story became true! I researched and related my story to the The 27 Club. The 27 club is a term that refers to a number of popular musicians who died at age 27 including Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison.

What materials do you use to make your pieces?

I create forms using a mixture of hand building and slip casting techniques, combining traditional pottery skills (slab building and modelling) with industrial process (plaster and clay slip)

A variety of processes are used on the surface including, hand painting, decal, stencilling and sprig.

Bone china and porcelain clay, 24 Ct. gold and platinum print and pigments to hand paint designs.
Clay: Bone China slips and porcelain 1220-1240 C
Under glaze pigments and clear glaze 1050-1100 C
Decal, lustre hand painted & china paints 780-850 C
 
Do you have any new items ready for Spring 2015?

I am working on developing my jewellery designs and adding new shapes to my existing collection.
I am also eager to work on a jigger jolly machine to create limited edition ceramic artworks that I can individually work on whilst wet and hand paint.

A selection of Denise's striking ceramics are available to buy in our shop. If you would like to find out more about Denise, you can visit her website.

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