Steven Edwards is a Ceramic Artist based in London with a background in Graphic Design. He graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with a Masters in Ceramics in 2018. Prior to this, he completed a BA in Applied Arts specialising in ceramics at Derby University.
His work investigates the language of making through the materiality and physicality of clay, questioning the concerns of living in an increasingly synthetic world and the determination to cling onto understanding ourselves through the use of materials. Fascinated by process-led making, he uses traditional techniques to provoke unanticipated outcomes, using clay as a medium that sustains the narrative of the making process. His interaction and manipulation of the clay, using bespoke tools, explores the intrinsic properties of the material.
His creative practice starts by purposely placing clay under stress to reveal the natural tension and movement in its surface and form. Throughout the whole making process, he pushes, pulls, compresses and slices the material to provoke a reaction.
The final fired forms are a combination of these making scenarios – each one holding their own expressive characteristics and energy.
Edwards has exhibited his vessel sculptures at premiere contemporary ceramic shows including British Ceramics Biennial, London Craft Week and London Design Festival. He has also made separate large-scale outdoor installations, including From Humble Beginnings as part of the Surrey Unearthed Arts Council funded project at the Watts Gallery.
Fold is a series of ceramic sculptures that explore the boundaries of material and the characteristics of form.
They have been developed from an ongoing interest of applying fixed processes to making by pushing the limits of clay to reveal tension and movement in both surface and form.
Each sculpture is assembled from the rhythmic stacking of parian clay spheres, deliberately distorted by following the specific steps of a making process – Repetition, Compression, Fold and Cut.
The results translate a theme of duality in their appearance – the contrast of visual distortion and precision, the stillness and movement in form and the surface deception between synthetic and organic.
“The language of making through the materiality and physicality of clay”
Material/maker relationship is fundamental to Steven’s practice. Clay has become an infectious material that he’s always been drawn to since his first encounter during art lessons at secondary school.
In general, handling and making directly with a material throws out unexpected creative avenues and allows ideas to germinate and progress. The act of ‘thinking through making’ fits here, only so much can be planned out in a sketchbook, the real creative process and output is in handling the material.
Steven has always been interested in pushing clay to its limit, experimenting and deliberately opposing the tried, tested and expected use of the material to discover new ways of displaying its qualities and features. He sees his relationship with clay as a collaboration, in which he aims to reveal its characteristics, whilst it, in return, teaches him about its natural properties.
“The act of thinking through making fits here”
For this series of work, Steven has introduced a range of oxides and stains to the parian clay body and surface decorating slip to create a bold balance of colour across the sculptures. The ceramic pigments are a combination of metallic oxides and ceramic oxides including Chrome, Zinc, Cobalt and Iron that are combined with Silica, Alumina and clay slip to fuse to the clay body.
He has adapted making tools from Aluminium tubing for cutting and forming selected pieces. Having tried and tested other metals and plastic, Aluminium has proved to perform the best results due to its corrosion resistance from forming a compact oxide layer over the surface and also its physical light weight.
For a selection of pieces, he has introduced marble dust to the surface colour, mixed in with the coloured clay slip to thicken the mixture and add a pearlescent finish to the fired surface. Steven uses parian porcelain clay for all of his current work, this type of clay was originally developed to imitate marble as an affordable high-end material that could be used to produce statuary wares. He has always been drawn to this idea of imitation and wanted to test the results of incorporating the imitated material into the clay body. Marble dust is also a topic of sustainable use to reduce its environmental impact, and is a material used by other artists/designers to highlight this issue in their artworks and products.