"The driving force in my practice is a fascination with found objects and how collaged combinations of these plaster casted forms can generate a unique visual narrative.
I unearth and gather discarded everyday objects that contain interesting 3D patterns, cast and record their forms in plaster, and then play with ways to amalgamate them. I use clay as a primary medium for its tactile and transformative nature, in slicing, bending and breaking these moulded sections I can dexterously examine the details I want to exploit and manipulate further. The final sculptures aim to both imitate and reshape these everyday items, challenging how we interact with prosaic forms.
I unite the surface of these collaged forms with graphic painted underglaze and slip patterns to create a dynamic equilibrium, where the 2D and 3D elements of my practice are integrated in a new dimension that is both sculptural and painterly. I use the painted surface to fuse the clay segments, constructing compositions that both reinforce and obstruct the original moulded forms, and choose to leave the ceramic surface matt and unglazed so that the texture of the clay can shine through
I subvert the traditional method of sculpture display by building the stands into the works, and use recycled materials to further assimilate the supports into the overall concept of reworking and remodelling found objects.
My visual ideas are expanded over sequences, allowing the narrative of each moulded form to evolve over a series of ceramic sculptures. This gives me the freedom to experiment and play with the cast models, expanding and evolving each form.
The act of collecting is personal and has become ritualistic, as it chronicles my travels and experiences. I now have a growing library of forms to draw inspiration from, and a mechanism for archiving my memories."
Aphra O’Connor is a British sculptor working primarily in clay. She was born in Whitby, North Yorkshire, and retains a strong link to her Northern industrial heritage through her three-dimensional collages.
She graduated from the Royal College of Art with a Masters degree in Ceramics and Glass in 2019 and from Wimbledon College of Art in 2014 with a BA in Sculpture. Having a sculptural background allows her to visualise clay in a manner that is outside of the craft pathway and by assembling the forms with reclaimed metal and wood she aims to create a new way of experiencing ceramic sculpture.
Aphra has now returned to Yorkshire to establish her studio and work with fellow artists to draw attention to the flourishing Northern art scene.