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One to Watch: Gemma Wilson

Colour, craftmanship and joy are kiln fired into the heart of Gemma Wilson’s work. Her incredible ceramic fruit forms had the judges chuckling with delight and they unanimously agreed the combination of colour and high levels of skill involved made her a natural ‘One to watch’.

Where did you study and what was the course title?

University of Brighton, 3D Design and Craft.

Name of your lecturer – course tutor?

My tutors were Alma Boyes and Jacqui Chanarin.

Have you got a creative mission statement?

To add some much needed extra colour and joy to the world!

How important is colour in your work and how do you choose and narrow down colours?

Colour was the starting point for my final degree work and the idea of colour ran through the entire project. I was interested to find out the reasons why I have always liked colour and why it makes me happy. With this is mind I chose to create brightly coloured ceramics to hopefully add some cheerfulness into the world.

I looked at fruit as the source for my colour, as relatively there aren’t that many sources of bright colour in nature and fruit is more accessible than exotic birds or flowers.

Tell us about your creative process – where do you find inspiration?

The starting points for projects vary widely and I don’t think I have a set process yet. I get inspired by other ceramists and their processes, sometimes looking at work will get me itching to get back into the studio and try things out. Other times it’ll be an odd sentence or picture in a book that intrigues and leads me into a new world of information that I haven’t explored yet. For example once I had decided on the subject of fruit, I dived into the research where I found really interesting things. These narratives then led on to dictate the forms of the pieces, so now each piece has their own hidden facts attached to them.

What is the best bit of the creative process – journey or destination?

Definitely the journey for me. I love the testing and processes of ceramics and almost feel like the end product is my trophy for completing that piece of work. I see it a bit like a lego kit from when I was little. I loved following all the steps and tests to make the end model and then wasn’t as interested in the finished thing, it was just recognition that I had made it successfully. Also as you’re working through the ideas, problems and decisions of a piece, new ideas spring up and it’s exciting to create those possibilities for fresh work.

Creative high point?

Recently, it would have to been coming into the studio on a Monday morning to open the kilns after the lemon and pomegranate pieces had had their last firing. It was great to see the culmination of the testing, seeing if it had paid off and that the glazes had worked.

Creative low point?

Any time I’m not in the bubble of creating work or in the studio without a clear focus in mind. I initially struggled to find a context to apply the colour too at the start of my final year. That was hard as I was desperate to make but had nothing to focus on. Being fully engaged in the project and the process is when I’m at my happiest.

Where do you want to be in 3 years’ time?

Hopefully I will be continuing to create exciting work and learning interesting things. Maybe a masters calls, maybe a new colour series, hopefully I will have a studio!

Is there one person during your studies/life who has really made a difference to you? – Maybe in terms of encouraging you when you were at a low point, pushing you in different directions unlocking your potential etc.

I’m lucky that my family and friends are very supportive and at different times each have helped me realise my goals. However, I would say that my tutor, Jacqui Chanarin was an amazing source of inspiration. After speaking to her, I’d always have a new sense of energy for the project and be able to see it in a new light. There would always be at least 4/5 new ideas or avenues to try out and she also helped me to understand the way that I work. It was also invaluable to have my peers around me when I was struggling creatively as it was great to be able to bounce ideas off them.

What is your favourite colour?

It changes quite a lot but at the moment its a really deep rich pinky raspberry red. Maybe its just because I’m about to make some dungarees in that colour!

Image credits: Gemma Wilson

Instagram: @gemma.s.wilson

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