Artist Spotlight: Andrea Beazely
Today we're thrilled to spotlight the wonderful Andrea Beazely. Several of her new pieces have just arrived in the shop . . . be sure to drop by to see them yourself!
How did you get started working with porcelain, and why do you choose to use it as your main material to work with?
I think I ended up using porcelain as a result of proximity -- where I studied at Unitec, the jewellery department was right next door to the ceramic barns and I would find myself drifting in there to "have a play." Through playing with the material and thinking about jewellery, I began working around the concept of wearable sculpture. In many respects I am still travelling that trajectory eight years later.
I’m attracted to the sculptural possibilities of working with ceramics. I like how it allows me to work in a freeform way and in a different scale. Achieving anything similar in metalwork would involve wax carving and casting which made me feel as though I was divided from the making process. I like that I get to revisit my pieces as they are taking shape: sculpting them in clay, carving them as they dry, firing, glazing, colouring, then reworking with the metal components. Sometimes a piece doesn’t end up anything like what I had imagined when I first shaped the porcelain and I like the surprises, challenges and evolutions this process throws at me.
I also like the conversation thrown up by using a non-traditional material in jewellery. It poses questions of material value and conformity. Most of what I consider the valuable jewellery in my jewellery box has absolutely nothing to do with what it is made from -- it is the sentimental associations that make them important to me. I enjoy gently posing this question with my work. I want to make beautiful objects that are treasured by their wearers with a value that surpasses the material they are made from.
What brought about this new style of work? What was the inspiration?
I would hazard a guess that 90 percent of ceramic objects take the form of a vessel of container in some form. The connotation of "container" is embedded in my material and seems to inevitably filter through into my work. It has been a constant thread and an idea I have revisited in various forms.
While the pieces I am making now are not always literally a vessel, they are modelled on seedpods evoking an idea of something hidden inside or a protected internal space. These are pods from my imagination and I am enjoying their invention.
I love the shapes of nature and see an indirect influence in this collection from things I have found in the bush and on the beach, as well as mirco and marco images I have around my studio of microscopic pollen particles.
How does it differ from your previous work?
In previous collections I have strived to be more geometric and mechanical in my forms. These are the most organic forms I have felt confident making. I like the way they wrap and fold around themselves with the porcelain being a dominant sculptural feature of each piece. I really enjoy the technical challenges of shaping the rippled texture and carving back into the clay.
Do you fire your pieces with the findings inserted first? Or is that trade secret and your clever artistry?
No, I wish it was that easy. This is the challenge of mixing my materials –- it causes some expletives in my studio but I actually love the challenge.
The porcelain is fired to 1200 dergees which makes it really durable for wearability but unfortunately would make any metal melt away in the kiln. I have to consider how it will be worn and how the findings will be placed while I am shaping the porcelain. All of the metal parts are added on after firing. There is no opportunity to add a hole there, or shift a pin there once it’s fired. Then just for extra fun, porcelain shrinks up to 12 percent during the firing process and metal offers a tolerance of zero percent.
You’re based in Whangarei. How would you describe you work space/studio?
My studio is set up in a spare room in our house. I love that it is right there waiting for me all the time and it is easy to pop in and play with a piece while dinner’s cooking.
I have it set up so that there are three stations within the room: a canvas-covered table for working with ceramics, my jewellery bench for metal shaping, soldering and finishing, then I have another bench where the two materials meet.
Until the clay is fired and the metal is finished, they aren’t really very compatible. Clay is damp and dusty, so not great for my metal tools, and metal is dirty and sharp so not great for my white porcelain shapes. But this system of work stations works for me and I love that moment where both metal and porcelain connect and fit perfectly in the finishing area to create a piece I am happy with.
At Debrasic, we love learning about and spotlighting independent artists of all sorts. Any independent musicians, designers, painters or other artists you love?
Well, the list has to start with my husband Dave Beazley. He is a painter and illustrator and I love his strange imagination and the characters it invents.
My colleague Katherine is a musician and is bravely undertaking a very public musical project where she is creating and recording a song a day for 100 days. You can check it out at www.thebirthofmirth.com.
My wardrobe is full of the creations of my friend and designer Harriet Falvey.
Ceramic artists Kiya Nancarrow, Mark Mitchell, Fran Maguire, Rick Rudd and Tatyanna Meharry to name a short list.
My day job is managing the community Quarry Arts Centre, where my working hours are full of talented artists, designers and musicians – we have 22 resident artists and a flood of associated creatives. I could actually go on forever so I will just broadly say, the artists at the Quarry.
Thanks to Andrea for sharing her insight and this beautiful jewellery!