“I first learned the ancient Japanese technique of raku – 楽, meaning ‘enjoyable, comfort, ease’ – in Jerusalem. I fell in love with its technical demands and aesthetic intensity, and have been on a journey into its possibilities ever since”. – Emma Johnstone.
Emma’s work explores the tension between this dramatic, intense, and fast firing technique and the aesthetic possibilities of elemental qualities and shapes.
For over fifteen years, she has been creating a range of work including hollow wheel-thrown forms reflecting iconic and ancient shapes. Having completely dispensed with the use of glazes, Emma relies on the effect that the intense heat and rapid change in temperature has on the clay surface and body, using the ‘slip resist’ technique that stops the glaze sticking to the surface of the piece. Colour and contrast are sometimes introduced into each piece by way of gold, silver, and copper leaf. Emma uses these to emphasise preciousness, vibrancy and timelessness, as well as in response to the distinct organic feel of the rims and flat surfaces.
Emma’s work continues to evolve, and she has explored deconstructing earlier pieces. By removing sections of the original forms, Emma reveals new planes and the form takes on a fresh perspective. She has also begun experimenting with curved planes, and creating wall pieces.
The intensity, immediacy and the surrender of control to the flame during firing has it’s pleasures and pains – but Emma can think of no better way to be so closely involved with the progress of a piece throughout the stages of it’s evolution.
Expressing her feelings Emma quotes “This involvement is what I love and somehow it more closely connects me with each piece that I make.”
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