Carol Smith

Carol is taking part in our coming Home is a Feeling show in Faversham on 13th and 14th November.

Describe what you do as a creative.

My creativity revolves around clay, be it using slip as a printing medium, hand building decorative ceramic pieces, or creating large sound sculptures from coils. I would like to say I treat my practice like a 9-5 job but it often seems like I work on it 24/7 if all the reading, researching, and viewing of other people’s work is included. Working with clay is an extremely mediative process. It takes time and patience. I usually begin with a general idea but always allow room for the unexpected. I’m happy to experiment and quite often end up going in a completely different direction. Working with clay is highly rewarding. There’s always an element of surprise involved. I’m never really sure what I’ve made until the kiln door opens.

Tell us about yourself 

I was born in Sussex but have lived in Kent since the age of two. My husband is an artist, and my eldest son has a degree in animation, so we are quite an arty family.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I wanted to be an artist. While my sisters played with dolls I bought paper from a local printers with my pocket money, and always requested pencils, pens, and paint for birthdays and Christmas.

How did you begin doing what you do?

I only discovered ceramics fairly recently, in my first year of university. I’d never even considered further study until a friend asked if I’d like to sign up to a creative writing class with her. The class turned out to be part of a university access course. Two years later I enrolled at the University of Kent, graduating in 2019 with a 1st class BA (Hons) in Fine Art.

What turns on your creativity?

The Medway area has always been a rich source of inspiration feeding my fascination with the textures and layers of both nature and history, and—particularly with my sound sculptures—the layers of sound. I’m also influenced by 1950s art and design which is evident in some of my decorative ceramics.

What do you like best about your work?

Practice makes perfect, as they say, and putting in the hours has really improved my hand building skills and glaze layering. Although I use commercial glazes I mix and layer them to create an original finish. Out of all my work I prefer the more sculptural pieces, particularly those with metal additions.

When were you most satisfied in your work?

I’ve just finished exhibiting with my husband at The Halpern Pop, Rochester. 40 Years in the Making was a delight to curate. Our work came together beautifully and it’s always satisfying when someone likes the work enough to buy it.

Describe a memorable response to your work?

My glazes are always commented on, and my work was once described as being surprisingly delicate.

What is the most exciting part of your work at the moment?

I always find a new project exciting so right now I’m looking forward to the Home is a Feeling group show in Faversham, and the likelihood of meeting a new group of creatives.

What is your dream project?

My dream project would be to have an installation of my sound sculptures in a busy urban setting, or maybe a church; it would be interesting to see how the sound is affected by the different locations.

Which artists / creative people are your heroes and inspiring figures?

People in the Wind by Kenneth Armitage is one of my favourite sculptures due to the way it captures movement, something I aim for in my own work. Magdalene Odundo and Lucy Rie would also make it onto my list of inspiring figures.

Your idea of happiness

Happiness is opening the kiln door and finding everything still in one piece.

What art/creativity related book should everyone read?

The Ceramics Reader published by Bloomsbury edited by Kevin Petrie & Andrew Livingstone is the most comprehensive book I’ve read regarding the importance and relivance of ceramics today, particularly in the expanded field of fine art.

Tell us a lesson life has taught you.

One lesson life has taught me is to always ensure sculptures placed in the public realm are really secure. In 2019 I was commissioned to create work for the Ramsgate Festival of Sound’s Sonic Trail. One of my large sound sculptures – a metre plus in height- was situated at the foot of Jacob’s Ladder, the other not far from Ramsgate Maritime Museum. On the last day of the festival, in a week that saw record temperatures and heavy rainfall, the sculpture at the foot of Jacob’s Ladder was stolen by two women who were seen bundling it into a car. On a more mundane note life has taught me to be organised but flexible. I always write a list at the start of each week and attempt to work my way through it.

Author: nathalieb