I spotted Isobel Higley early on in her career. We both studied Contemporary Craft at Falmouth Uni, although we were in different years, I always have a soft spot for Falmouth Guys and girls. Naturally, I've been stalking her on instagram since. Its hard not to recognize her work immediately when it pops up on my feed. Her trademark smiley "Spirit Friends" are full of fun and character with a painterly style that's both simple and effective.
Initially this first blog post was going to be "My Top Ten artists from the Thrown Contemporary Winter Exhibition" But every artist had such wonderful responses to my 3 questions I decided they each needed their own spot light. So here is our first Inspirational Ceramicist - Isobel Higley
What is Isobel's Favorite Piece?
I always find there is a difference between an Artists favorite piece of work, the work that does well on social media or the work that sells the best. Personally, it always surprises me that when I fall in love with something I've made it goes relatively unnoticed compared to those I don't feel as precious and strongly about. Therefore, I felt it was important to ask which piece Isobel favors rather than a best seller or a creation for promotion.
Here is what she had to say about "Pink Friend" (pictured above)
"It is so hard to pick a favourite piece… but I am particularly proud of my sculpture “Pink
Friend” which I made this past summer. Since I graduated, I have been experimenting with
glaze recipes trying to create a finish that is thick and chunky. I wanted it to look like a thick
creamy cupcake icing with pastel colouring. I am also interested in combining different types
of clay and glaze, and all these ideas really synthesise in this sculpture. I try not to get too
attached, as lots of my work is sold or exhibited. “Pink Friend” is now happily living in a
private collection, and I look forward to making work with similar finishes soon."
What a success Pink Friend is! Glazing is something that scares and fascinates me. To create a glaze that looks like something else entirely is one hell of an achievement. There is something very tactile in the combination of textures that Isobel has used that make this forbidden snack good enough to eat.
Why did Isobel become a potter?
"I love the alchemy of turning a lump of mud into a mug that you can drink your morning tea
in. Before my first degree, BA (Hons) Contemporary Crafts at Falmouth University, I had
actually never worked with clay before. I enrolled on the course because I loved creating
sculptures. Although I was taught skills to work with metal, glass, plaster plastic and more…
The material I always come back to is clay. I find the process so interesting and there is
always more to learn. I have been working with clay for around 5 years now and I feel like I
have just scratched the surface!"
Perhaps there was something exceptionally special happening in the Ceramics department at Falmouth Uni, I had a very similar experience with the expectation of becoming a jeweler. However the moment I picked up a lump of terracotta all I wanted to do was play with clay for 3 years and I've certainly not grown out of that yet. There is an element of the unknown which drives the practice forward.
What Is there to look forward to in 2022?
"In 2022 I am going to make a harvest jug and I am very excited about it. Harvest jugs were
traditionally made to carry ale or cider at harvest time and are traditional in the south-west
of England. North Devon slipware is celebrated in the little port town of Bideford, where I
grew up. This traditional style of British pottery dates to the 16th century and is still made
today in local potteries. I have been lucky enough to work in potteries throughout North
Devon studying this beautiful process, and I feel motivated to create a personal project
surrounding this history"
Its impossible not to swoon at the idea of a Traditional, extremely English object colliding with Isobel's signature smiley style. whats not to love about this project.
I can't wait to see this.
Thank you so much to Isobel for answering my questions so eloquently and for continuing to brighten up the planet with her work. you can find her work by clicking the buttons below.