Confrontation, energy, curiosity, essence of a moment and interaction are the main elements that initially draw me to a new subject and are indicative of the very nature of the animals I have depicted. It is not purely and interest in animals, but the challenges of capturing the inherent nature of the subject, particularly where the movement, flexibility and power of the animal is concerned. The majority of these animals are extremely agile, able to distort from compact masses to being outstretched with tense looking limbs or with extremely strong bone structure with dramatic lines that are achieved through spines, shoulders and limbs. Also the great sense of weight that can be achieved through masses of flesh; the tension spring and strength in muscles and the creases and folds of the skin. thus giving me a wide variety of expressions to work from one animal. When approaching a new body of work I produce a large amount of visual research including film, photography and drawing. Sketching is particularly important as it provides me with a greater understanding of the form. The translation of drawn marks provides ideas that could not flow from photographs alone as they immediately focus my attention on the strongest elements of the pose. I aim to interpret these drawn qualities into clay and remove the work from pure representation choosing appropriate ceramic textures thus enabling a dialogue to develop between drawing and expression in clay, a jagged line in ink is re-interpreted as a torn clay edge; an arc of soft pencil becomes a soft fold. The energy of the animal and the tautness of the pose are conveyed by a distortion in the medium. I endeavour to avoid my work appearing over handled, but stretch and tear the clay often to the point when it splits and breaks to accentuate the surface. This forms an essential part of an investigation into statement by omission. Through leaving out features ofthe animals and focusing attention on negative space within the form I felt enabled me to convey the spirit that animates it. I also examine skeletons, which help determine the bone structure and how the animal moves by studying the joints and the overall form of the animal I wish to portray. I then add some of these sections into the piece by using found objects for example a jaw bone or claw on a hare may be represented by a gnarled steel nail inserted into the clay before firing. The work is built from a variety of clay bodies combined in different ways depending on the piece. For the large scale pieces I wedge 50% of porcelain paper-clay, for its translucent qualities and plasticity, with 50% white stoneware paper clay for its strength and dry surface qualities. I never fully mix the clays to enhance the contrast of the textures and colours once fired. For the small pieces I combine earthstone 40 again for strength and texture with Audrey Blackman porcelain as it becomes translucent at relatively low temperatures, this is particularly useful when constructing the hare’s ears. The pieces are then fired to1140 0c with a good soak to increase strength without too much risk of distortion. I apply all colour after the first firing as this enhances the surfaces rather than masking them. These include oxides and a wide range of coloured slips and glazes. They are applied using loose brush strokes some soft and inky to show the folds and shadows of the body through to bold or pale in order to suggest light falling across the fur of the camouflage of my subject. The work is then refired to the same temperature making the clay strong but not fully vitrified so as to retain the contrasts of colours and texture within the clay surface. Some of the pieces are later smoke fire if required with areas masked to represent the markings of the beast. Or areas of colours wiped back to give the illusion of weathering. On visiting Cairo Museum I found statues that over the centuries have corroded to a point that arms, legs or even parts of the face were missing. However If hands, feet or even an ear remained intact, it was suspended or fixed into the appropriate, original position. Looking at these pieces, I found that remaining parts were enough to suggest the piece in its entirety. I am currently working on a series of work with this in mind, as the experience has made me look more in depth at decay and restoration/ reconstruction of artefacts. This has always been an influence on my work but now I am taking those ideas onto other directions by constructing pieces that are made from fragments that are assembled on a metal frame. The sections are then glazed and fired to a variety of temperatures to give the impression of weathering in areas. It is then reassembled on the metal frame. I have started to experiment more with bronze over the last few years as I feel clay can not sustain the demands of some of my ideas in terms of strength and durability. To emphasise the movement, the fighting hares are joined in only two points, this would not be possible in clay. ( as the weight of the elevated hare would not be able to be supported) The more I experiment in bronze the more exciting I find it. Making the original piece in clay enables me to retain the surface qualities and the fluidity of the clay. I then have a latex mould made from this and a wax cast is taken. I worked into the wax, cutting out sections which I feel are not required, this reveals more negative space and frees me to enjoy the very essence of the animal without the risk of destroying the piece. This was most relevant when constructing the bull and the very nature of the bronze exaggerated the aggression within the piece. I look forward to experimenting further within this field and at different stages of the process including working into the pieces after casting and incorporating the runners and found materials through to application of patination I aim to develop my work by continually pushing the boundaries in terms of ideas, expression and the use of materials. My work is moving more towards abstraction but I feel the main aspect of my subject matter that will remain most constant is the principles of movement. Even in static pieces such as ‘The Raven’ I have tried to evoke an implication and anticipation of movement. Also the agility of the hares and monkeys is something that I will continue to explore.