Work in Development: Vale of the White Horse Sprig ware
I have lived in a hamlet of the Vale in the shadow of White Horse Hill for over 30 years. Geography, environment, and a sense of place in a rural location is important to me and are qualities inherent in my work.
My present work in development is less retrospective; drawing inspiration from my contemporary life in the Vale of the White Horse, Oxfordshire.
I am investigating sprigged forms in relief to celebrate the ancient and iconic White Horse at Uffington.
The exact date and origin of the sculpture is unknown, there is some suggestions that it is a monument to a victory over the Danes by King Alfred, who was born at nearby Wantage, however the figure has been dated to the Bronze Age, predating the battle by many centuries.
The Vale is the valley of the stream called the Ock, a stream which joins the Thames at Abingdon.
Above the village of Uffington the gigantic figure of the white horse is cut into the turf of the hillside revealing the white chalky soil beneath.
My initial forms are mugs to explore the iron rich clay body with use of dolomite glaze in sprigged relief, to yield unique personal vessels with a common theme- everyone has a favourite mug! I am also developing other functional pieces in this body of work, such as oil bottles, salt jars, butter pots, and planters.
On the summit of the hill there is a large well-preserved circular camp, occupied by the Romans but of much earlier origin as it is an Iron Age hill fort known as Uffington Castle named after Uffington village in the vale below.