Art & Design Tuesday, January 3rd Words by: Mark Bowen, pictures by: Emily Nicholls

Using clay as a canvas: Verity Howard's art looks into the lives of others

Art & Design Tuesday, January 3rd

Using clay as a canvas: Verity Howard's art looks into the lives of others

Herefordshire artist Verity Howard uses clay to open little windows on other people’s lives.

Her contemplative ceramic artworks and clay paintings are a response to strangers' situations - the clay slabs often based on drawings she makes at night, before curtains get closed and lights are turned out.

She's exhibited at Hereford Contemporary, The Courtyard and The Old Mayor's Parlour Gallery, at Manchester Craft and Design Centre, and the Apple House Gallery in Denmark. 2017 will see her work go on show at the MAFA Spring Exhibition at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery. 

We caught up with her to talk about inspiration and why the best work has a surprise ending.

LIVELINEBREAK3copy

"I’d say 95% of people get my work, some don’t but that’s fine.

"My main inspiration is people’s lives and history. It’s always involving people.

"Ceramic art to me is using clay as a canvas for ideas. Rather than making functional things, I make objects and pieces that are contemplative. I use clay as a medium for drawing and printing.

"I love capturing glimpses into people’s windows in the evening, capturing glimpses into their lives. I start with that as my concept and figure out what is most important to me about the images."

Verity Howard Presence Through Absence 5

Above, Presence Through Absence. Photo: Emily Nicholls

Verity Howard A Ley Landscape

Verity Howard A Ley Landscape 5

Above, A Ley Landscape. Photo: Emily Nicholls

"It’s about the stillness and warmth and absence that a room without a person has. I want to capture the feeling of the person who lived there without them being there; capturing glimpses into their lives through the possessions in their window.

"I roll out a slab of clay, then I mix up slip [liquid clay] that add pigment to, then I paint it on to a piece of newspaper and let it dry a bit. Sometimes I do drawings and then roll it on to the clay, it’s like a one stage printing process.

"I have different bodies of work. I like my work to have a conversation between the pieces."

A Small Still Surreal Town

A Small Still Surreal Town 2

Above, A Small Surreal Town. Photo: Emily Nicholls

 VH ceramics 2

"The most enjoyable element of working with ceramics - and also the most exasperating at times, is the surprise element.

"You can work on something and think you know how it will turn out. You test all the colours and slips and then when you fire it, it comes out completely differently."

HerefordshireLive vertlogo

Verity recently moved to Unit 6, a community studio aligned to the Artsite3 group, based at the Rockfield Road Industrial Estate in Hereford.

Her background includes a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at the Hereford College of Arts, followed by a degree in Three Dimensional Design at Manchester School of Art.

You'll find her on Instagram @verityhowardceramics and online at verityhowardceramics.com.

Do you want to write for Herefordshire Live? Get in touch on Facebook, Twitter or say hello@herefordshirelive.co.uk