Caroline Hewitt and Jaki Darlington's work is underpinned by a mutual love of the animal world. They specialise in distinctive hand-built ceramics, producing character driven animal sculpture, wood mounted British birds and have developed a collection of hand-made tiles. To date, their tiles feature embossed bird and insect motifs decorated with oxides, glazes and lustre. They are current members of the High Peak Artists group, based permanently at Buxton’s Gallery in the Gardens. They are exhibiting for Derbyshire Open Arts 2020 at Providence Church in New Mills alongside 7 other artists.
I am fascinated by the fact that clay can be tired, stressed, and that it has a memory. I like that idea, it reminds us that clay is organic, once lived. Ceramic forms can also have a body, a neck, a collar and shoulders and vessels often have a lip, mouth, legs and feet. I am intrigued by the relationship that ceramic objects share with the human form and I like to explore that connection in my work. Rather than producing a realistic representation of animals, my work seeks to capture the playfulness of animals, which often results in them inheriting human quirks and mannerisms. In recent years I have challenged the myth that elephants are afraid of mice: I like to think of elephants and mice being friends and companions. All our ceramic animal sculptures are given their own individual name, making each one entirely unique.
As a student, I produced a series of drawings of an abandoned bird's nest found in my dad's garden. This became the basis of my final year's work and which marked the beginning of what would become a longstanding obsession with British birds. Originally trained in printed textile design at Heriot-Watt University, drawing and the application of image, pattern or motif to a surface has always been fundamental to my work. Twenty years on, I work almost exclusively by drawing, collage and through ceramics, with clay fulfilling the same role as paper or fabric. Birds are built in the hand and are intended to be true to scale. My drawings are also translated into limited edition prints using the gum arabic transfer technique and most current work includes a series of British Bees.
Having both worked in further and higher education for more than twenty years, Caroline and Jaki currently work as full-time artists and run weekly art workshops for children at The Craft Barn in Hadfield. They live in Glossop with their cat Peter (and the interloper Louie).
Will undertake commissions.