This week we have been getting to know local ceramic artist Paula Armstrong. Check out our Q&A below to find out about Paula’s desire to become an artist from a young age, how she uses a mixture of matt and gloss glazes so that her pieces interact with the light and her sources for keeping up-to-date with what is happening within the arts and crafts industry. She also talks about her current inspiration and gives details of where she hosts her ceramics workshops and classes.
(Image by Julian Bond – Studio)
Tell me a little about yourself and how you became a ceramic artist.
I always wanted to be an artist and found ceramics when I did GCSE art at school. There was a ceramics studio that wasn’t often used and where I was often on my own making work. When I went on to do my foundation course I found I enjoyed textiles too so decided to do a BA Hons Design Crafts degree which combined printed and multi-media textiles with ceramics, although I specialised in ceramics in the end after all.
After graduating I set up as a self-employed artist thanks to help from my parents and have been working as a ceramic artist ever since although with a few breaks for things like being employed full time so I could buy a house or when I had my daughter.
Describe your style in 5 words.
Quirky, Organic, Characterful, Tactile, Provocative.
(Image by Julian Bond – Three Spikes Bowls)
(Image by Julian Bond – Large Spikes Bowl)
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from a wide variety of sources but for my current work I am exploring the theme of the ‘Extrinsic and Intrinsic’. I started with inspiration from the Japanese art of Enso in which an apparently simple circle is a reflection of everything from the universe as a whole to the void from which it came. This led me to consider the concept of internal and external spaces within sculptural forms.
I started with vessel forms that are traditionally functional with a decorative external surface and functional internal space. I am exploring the idea of creating more than one internal space as well as playing with the idea of turning internal spaces into the external through form and surface decoration. I am also interested in how the surface and form interact and how the piece sits within its environment. This has led me to be interested in how light might change the look of a piece as well as how the piece might impact on its surrounding using light and shadow. I am also working on combining ceramic forms with textile work and adornment.
Could you tell me a little more about one of your pieces?
My cream spikes vase has the green spikes bursting out of the vase form violently enough to crack the vase and force it to move out of the way. The spikes have a fluid aspect encompassing a sense of movement while being solidly static. The vase is finished in a matt cream glaze while the spikes are glossy green reflecting highlights from any nearby light source.
(Image by Julian Bond – Cream Spikes Vase)
How do keep yourself informed about what is going on within the art / design world, in Cambridgeshire and further afield?
I am a member of CAN (Cambridge Arts Network), CPA (Craft Potters Association) and Anglian Potters. I take part in events like Cambridge Open Studios and get news from places like a-n magazine and the Crafts Council. I also enjoy visiting galleries and chatting with other local artists whenever I can.
(Image by Paula Armstrong – Class Working)
Are you a member of any local art groups and / or do you teach classes?
I teach classes at my studio, for Cambourne Village College and at the Wellcome Trust in Hinxton.
Where can people find your work?
At the moment my work can be found only at my studio, a gallery in Milton Keynes or online in my Etsy shop.
Thank you to Paula for an amazing insight into her work and the inspiration behind her latest project. Her Facebook and Instagram feeds are really active and well worth a follow! Check out her website – and if you are interested in booking onto one of Paula’s workshops then you can find out about the types of classes she runs and her availability here. We encourage you to also check out Crafty Parties – fabulous and fun party activities for all ages hosted by Paula Armstrong Ceramics.
If you are a local artist, designer or maker and are interested in finding out about a feature, please do feel free to contact us – we would love to hear from you and find out about your work.