Jill Ford’s work with porcelain reflects a deep feeling for nature and a love of the porcelain clay itself. Texture and pattern are created by painting, carving and printing. Layers of slip are built up into areas of raised relief, perfect for depicting foliage and muddy undergrowth. Visual and tactile interest is created by contrasting areas of smooth glaze with bare porcelain or heavily textured slip.
Inspiration is drawn from landscapes and seascapes; clumps of trees, reflections in pools, rivers and floodwaters. I live adjacent to the Lower Derwent Ings, a SSSI site, where seasonal flooding and the deposited flood debris form studies in abstraction that I strive to recreate utilising the fine qualities of porcelain. Attention is paid to the changing of the seasons, as familiar scenes are depicted throughout the year; trees in stark wintry silhouettes, full foliage or surrounded by mist.
Coastal pieces reflect the patterning in sedimentary rocks, laid down on the sea-bed and now thrust up to form coastal cliffs. The action of the waves erodes into faults in the rock forming deep ruts. Coastal erosion is a prominent feature of the coastline around Spurn Point where lines of groynes are gradually becoming defeated by the power of the tides. I recreate elements observed and sketched from weathered rock formations by manipulating layers of porcelain.
The Coastal wall pieces are inspired by the glorious stretches of coastline in N.W. Highlands around Gairloch. Deserted golden beaches flanked by rugged rock formations, ever-changing skies and dramatic seas, characterise this area. I have aimed to capture something of this beauty both in coastal scenes and abstract works, using smooth white porcelain as my medium with the addition of glazes and ceramic slips and stains.
Painting with ceramic materials offers many unique opportunities. Glaze, with its high silica content, is similar to glass – glossy and transparent – perfect for depicting water. I apply a transparent glaze to the area of rock submerged beneath the water line and accentuate the glint of the line that demarcates water and air and enlivens the picture plane. Over thousands of years cracks and fissures develop in the rock, forming rounded shapes that fit together. Deeper cracks become in filled with debris and small pebbles, creating interesting patterns. All this is rich source material for my wall pieces. I build up multiple layers of clay and slip to recreate raised rocks textures and the growth of lichens and barnacles. Often the surface is scraped back – mimicking the forces of erosion and softening the surfaces. As a child my task was often to roll tight paper spills for lighting the fire. I use the same rolling technique with ultra-thin layers of porcelain to make the curling forms of breaking waves and use glaze to suggest movement of the waves.
In making the wall pieces I combine many techniques, developed over the years, to depict seascapes and ideas of movement and erosion. Each piece is original and unique and often forms part of that explores and develops a theme. They are a joy to make and I hope something of that passion will pass on to others.