ARTISTS / 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.
The intangible flux of atoms, molecules and breath that make up my being, shape and inform a creative, imaginative response to each rising moment. Ideas are formed or birthed, in this melting pot of scrying and stirring, I grasp what I can before they dissolve into mist and the mundane.
The main themes for my work come from Archetypes, Dreams, Mythology, Symbolism and Nature. Looking into my subconscious through meditation and mandala opens up a vast array of exciting and mysterious material, a feast of ideas for the visual artist.
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 under-glaze 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.