A process that I have been waiting an incredibly long time to test out is that of the Raku firing process. The process is essentially a firing in which a (raku) glaze is applied to an object and then burnt at high temperatures outside and then placed in a sealed bin with dry materials such as newspaper and sawdust to produce these beautiful patterns.
What I love about this process is the unpredictability of the outcome, essentially every raku firing is unique and can go one or two ways, a 50/50 chance. This uniqueness is what is important for my underlying concept with regards to the raku firing process, the idea of how this process brings forth ideas of materiality, conceptuality and experience. It is the reason I decided to revisit the concepts that surround bones and what they can represent.
By this uniqueness is what is important for my underlying concept with regards to the raku firing process. Every bone ever factioned grown or developed is unique, i.e my arm bone and your arm bone are both arm bones yet completely individual and ultimately only related by terms of skeletons and ‘bones’. Our bones are with us and grow from the day we are born and still exist to the day we die, they are the only permanent remains of what is ‘us’ and our individuality – they exist without consciousness yet stand as self-rendition.
This made me consider why firstly I am creating the bones and secondly how I was making them ?. Why not simply cast one bone 100 times, instead of individually creating them ?. If I were to cast one bone I am simply making copies of the predecessor; for me this does not stand vestige for experience, further human experience, to individually create each bone is to hold and retain some form of personal experience for each one. every mark on every bone may be similar but ultimately unique, and aren’t we primarily all unique ?. The bones and materials once again for me jolt my primal memory, it is what I would automatically associate with the primordial and further then the consciousness and subconscious that surrounds it.
physically featureless bones cannot empathetically mirror and reflect our and other physical selfs – this meaning that they do not stand for physical human depiction, but rather they fundamentally stand conceptually and by conceptually primal memory and instinct it is what we as beings associate as our organic scaffolding, what supports and holds us together.
Moving back to the raku firing process what is further important to me in terms of process re-related to conceptuality is the idea of transformation – not a too dissimilar transformation to fossilisation ( from organic matter to rock). Raku glazing is a man made fossilisation process, the physical intervention of man from molten clay to glazed object.
When taken out of the kiln the bones are molten, they are impressionable and alterable- when placed in the bin you are essentially throwing experience and shaping the physicality of those objects. I decided that I would bring a bunch of dry leaves back from my home in the Forest Of Dean to further hold vestige to this idea, that of ‘ personal, primal intervention and experience’.
When the process is complete as you can see above these beautiful patterns are produced, each one as previously stated unique – individual.