Valerie James

I make art because I want to bring into my own visual world an idea of touching the mystery; to add a little ‘something’ of my soul’s journey  through life. The most exciting thing is the impetus, the drive, the spark to make the invisible, visible.

With the motivation and ideas in place I look for the method and materials. I trained in painting and sculpture at UCW Aberystwyth, I have, in the last ten or so years, been working with the wonderful plasticity of clay, a material which is so very fundamental, clay objects have survived for thousands of years, considering their brittle and fragile nature this alone is a small miracle. With the addition of ‘fire’ to provide the transforming flux anything can happen!

I use stoneware and porcelain clays with underglazes, oxides, glass, and lustres. My ‘Madonna’ series of works make great use of mixing underglaze colours with clear or thin white layers of glaze which soften the colours and produce a very ‘touchable’ surface, soft and bone-like. I often add small areas of gold lustre to pieces to add a ‘special-ness’ or a ‘ votive’ aspect to the work. This may then be enhanced with photographic decals.

Making works particularly for Raku firing gives me an opportunity to step into the realms of ‘chance’. I make my own glazes and use wonderful materials such as ‘silver nitrate’, bismuth, and copper oxides which produce metallic and volcanic surface textures complimenting the black backgrounds of soft matt smoke absorbed clay.