Nest Houses

As part of my on-going exploration of the possibilities for my practice of working with porcelain clay, I created a number of ‘Nest-Houses’, inspired by poems by John Clare and Kathleen Jamie. As part of the process of creating the surfaces, before building them into ‘vessels’, I employed a combination of mono print and embossing techniques in an extension of my existing practice of manipulating surfaces as a way of evoking the atmosphere that I experience, while I move around inside the space of a poem. The materials used to generate the surface texture of these pieces was gleaned from walks made over the slopes of an extinct volcano called Arthur’s Seat, between my studio in the city and a ‘secret’ garden, Dr. Neil’s Garden, situated on the edge of Duddingston Loch, near Edinburgh.

The resulting forms represent a deep, on-going and evolving connection with place and what I call ‘thisness’, referring to the very particular qualities evident in ‘things’ that hail from a specific place. I very much wished to locate these pieces outdoors, amongst the living, breathing trees in the garden and to allow them the possibility of becoming functional nesting houses for birds and, as part of my exhibition: Such frail enclaves: things remembered, made things, things unmade… in Autumn, 2018 – housed within the garden and the magical Thompson’s Tower, located within its walls – I was able to bring this idea to life. 

Hand-built using porcelain clay – with impressed natural forms and lace, mono printed text and oxide glazes, with ladders (for detail, see ‘Ladders’ Gallery) incorporating rungs made using either porcelain or bog oak with lime-waxed text, Italian hand-crafted twine and gold wire – these ‘Nest-Houses’ have been inspired by poems by Kathleen Jamie, from The Tree House (Picador, 2004), This Weird Estate (Scotland Medicine: Collections & Connections, 2007), a limited edition collection of poems which drew inspiration from visits to medical and anatomical collections held in museums across Scotland and our collaborative book Frissure (Polygon, 2013). Each ‘Nest-House’ is approx. 30 x 12 x 12 cm and prices are available on application.