Colleen Hillman is a ceramic artist. Her work is slip cast in porcelain which is then altered in a variety of ways. Slip casting is a very precise process, but by cutting and piecing forms, Colleen produces work of a different visual language.
She is drawn to plain, simple forms with clean lines which can be seen in her work. Materiality is important to her practice. She uses porcelain for its whiteness and its smooth surface finish. Her work is unglazed and polished which gives an ethereal quality and lightness to her minimalist forms. The pieces are carefully placed together in groups to create a sense of calm, order and balance. Her recent work has been shown at James Hockey Gallery, Farnham; Espacio Gallery, London; and Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester. She has participated in Barnes Artists in Bloom, Barnes Art Fair 2019 and Barnes Art Trail 2020.
I am one of the members of this art collective and a ceramic artist. My work, inspired and informed by contemporary architecture, continually questions and explores the use of innovative design and new materials.
At the heart of my work is one of the more sophisticated methods of manufacturing ceramics into complex shapes that is used today– slip casting. Slip casting is the process of filling the moulds with slip (which is the liquid clay), allowing it to solidify and after a while forming a layer, called the cast, inside of the mould’s walls. It is a very precise process, but by cutting and piecing forms and altering them in a variety of ways, I produce work of a different, very personal, visual language.
Material plays a crucial role in her work since it is essential for the material she uses to adjust to the needs of slip casting. Colleen chose a liquid clay body called Parian – a type of porcelain. As she has worked extensively with Parian, she understands its limitations and foibles.
“Parian goes through a dramatic change through the various stages of making and firing.”
After much experimentation with other raw ceramic materials, Parian was chosen for specific reasons. Not only does a Parian liquid clay body have the qualities and properties that are essential to the slip casting process, but it is also crucial to the final surface finish that she strives to achieve. Collen´s final pieces are unglazed and polished, giving an ethereal quality and lightness to her minimalist, pure forms.
Parian goes through a dramatic change throughout the various stages of making and firing- starting as a liquid form, and after the final firing, ending completely vitrified, impermeable and white, with a smooth surface and a slight sheen.
Finally, once her pieces are made, Colleen thoughtfully places them next to each other extending a sense of calm, order and balance to the viewer. Some of her work is even pierced and connected by glass and metal, once again reflecting her interest in architectural forms.
For the Materiality exhibition Colleen has been looking at constructing and deconstructing simple ceramic forms to make a series of still life compositions using only one material and one original form.
She always uses the same material in her work; a particular type of porcelain called Parian. It is a material she has got to know, therefore understands its limitations and foibles. Colleen uses it in a liquid form that is essential for the process of the slip casting. Slip casting is a precise process, so it is necessary to know how the material behaves at each stage. She knows how this clay body reacts to temperatures in the kiln, therefore she feels confident in the outcome.