elise bishop

Unique, hand-made, functional ceramics

Form of Function: an Artistís Statement


My work revolves around robust, sculptural, functional vessels.† I use porcelain and various stoneware clay bodies, including found clays, and I decorate with raw mineral materials.† I like to contrast bare clay surfaces, finished in different ways, with deep, watery, celadon-type glazes.† From my perspective as the maker, the finished pieces are about three things: Time, Place, and Material.



In a society where mass production dictates most numbers in least time, to hand-make something, particularly something that has been appropriated by industrial capitalism (for example, functional ceramics), is, for me, a way of re-appropriating time.† Making an individual object, taking care that there is a close relationship between every aspect of form and finish, a relationship that will be unique in each piece, because each piece is unique, and spending a significant amount of time in each phase of the hand-making process, with consideration for the longevity of the piece both aesthetically and functionally, rejects a mode of production where the disposal of cheap mass-produced functional objects ultimately wastes time (and resources).



For me, living is largely about place, and place is about the natural environment.† I have lived my whole life backwards and forwards between Australia and New Zealand.† I have experienced the beauty of both and the distinctness of each.† Subjectively, New Zealand is about water, small things, and ancient-seeming landscapes; Australia is about earth, monumental scale, and truly ancient landscapes.† I like to think that my work reflects some of the essence of each.



I love clay.† I love where it comes from, I love the tactile processes involved in changing it from the material beneath our feet into a permanent work of art and/or functionality.† I love that these processes need not consume resources unsustainably.† I love that clay bodies can vary almost infinitely.† I love that a material can link me so effectively to place and time, just by its very nature.† Some of the earliest objects known to be made are objects of clay, and a significant number of those still exist thousands of years later.† In the history of ceramics we can read the development of technology and the rise and fall of societies.† The making of pots shifts in its meaning across countries and across centuries.† Studio ceramics, within the context of modern industrial capitalism, has meaning such as it has never had before.† I believe in its importance.

Process of Making