Right: Contained Boxes, 2016
36 Woman’s Hour Craft Prize
There’s nothing brash or flashy about Andrea Walsh’s jewel-like boxes, but instead they exude a quiet authority. ‘I would say my work is sculptural,’ she says. ‘It’s very minimal. I’m interested in paring down to an essence of something – whether that’s form or an idea.’ Working primarily in a combination of glass and ceramic, her vessels have evolved gently over the years creating an incredibly coherent body of work. ‘I’ve always been interested in the idea of the vessel,’ she says. ‘The idea of something enclosed, protected. The container behaving like a shell.’
She initially studied fine art at Staffordshire University, and while the course was largely conceptual, students had access to some wonderful facilities. She began to experiment with different materials, including glass, but was frustrated at needing the constant help of technicians, so she spent a year at Dudley’s International Glass Centre learning an array of techniques. This was followed by a Masters in the material at Edinburgh College of Art, where she introduced clay to her practice and learnt to slip cast.
In 2009 she won an Artist into Industry residency through the British Ceramics Biennial in Stokeon-Trent, which took her to the Barlaston factory of Wedgwood’s Minton brand. This in part inspired her to move from producing vessels to differently sized faceted boxes in glass and fine bone china. Importantly, too, she started to add some (subtle) gold decoration to her pieces.
Another key moment came in 2014 during an artist residency funded by Creative Scotland at Edinburgh College of Art, which provided her with a bursary to travel to Japan. Visiting the art museums on Naoshima she had a moment of clarity: ‘The experience of the artwork and how it was displayed, the consideration and the thought… was incredible.’ She began making the first of her ‘Contained Boxes’ as soon as she arrived back in the UK, showing them initially at the Crafts Council’s fair Collect in 2015. ‘I felt like my work had become more refined, more focused,’ she says.
Walsh isn’t making any huge leaps in her pieces for the prize; instead she will be presenting a continuation of the series of softer, more organic, forms. After all, incremental change and beautiful refinement are more her thing. GG andreawalsh.co.uk
WOMAN’S HOUR CRAFT PRIZE
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