Dylan Bowen | Episode 913
Dylan Bowen makes slip decorated earthenware using both traditional and contemporary materials and techniques. . Dylan works on a small but ever-changing range of shapes, large platters, bowls and carved forms. The clay is thrown, cut, carved or handbuilt, the slips are poured trailed or brushed on. Dylan’s work has its roots in traditional slipware but with many contemporary influences. Bowen aims to capture some of the dynamism and spontaneity of the making process in the finished work.
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How important in your mind while you are making is lighting?
The lighting of my workspace?
I am thinking about when it’s finished up for display.
You know, it should be more important. That’s thrown me a little bit that question. It’s something that I should pay more attention to because if it’s properly lit it looks so much better. A lot of the time I don’t take enough care of that kind of thing, I think. It’s important but I need to do more. (laughter)
You mentioned that you get inspiration outside of the ceramic world, using real life for feelings. Do you at all try to introduce any kind of symbolism to be able to express the feelings?
Not any more. I think earlier on I was a bit more literal but now I try to rely on fairly abstract gestures or marks. But hopefully they’ll convey some excitement or dynamism or some sort of life I guess. That’s what I am after.
Do you ever try to carry a story into your work?
That’s a good question too that I would probably need to go away and think about and come back. But initially I would say not literal but I think every thing I make has to do with me so it’s everything that I have ever done or tried to do. It all comes out in the work.
Does your intention of wanting to convey excitement or a passion matter to you if it is not caught by the viewer?
I think it’s very much what I feel. Obviously it’s great if the person…if they like the work and they get a sense of what I am trying to say. It’s definitely more about how I feel when I am making it. Do I feel that I achieved what I wanted to achieve or communicated these feelings and if I do than that’s enough. The test for me is when I am making. Does it have the right feel to it?
If you are trying to create disruption or excitement does breaking the rules of balance or composition, does that help to create a better experience with your work?
Yeah, I would agree with that. Again it’s a little contradictory for me because sometimes I want my work to be a little bit unsettling or a little bit aggressive. But I also want it to be humorous and I want it to have a sense of fun. I also would like it to be quite ugly and challenging but I also would like it to be really the opposite of that. I want people to like it. So I am kind of carrying around all these different, conflicting…so I don’t have a clear answer to that. I kind of want it to be everything and I want everybody to like it but I also want them to not like it. It’s difficult.
What things help you to get in the flow as a maker? What cues?
It used to be music really. I used to play basically pretty loud music almost to distract myself a little. So when I am working I would be in the room but also slightly not in the room but that doesn’t feel necessary any more so much. So what do I need?…nothing in particular, I can generally tell if things are going to work or not going to work. Maybe if I am not feeling the magic then I will do something more mundane because there’s a lot to do ,as you know, in the studio. You know, I can just go wedge some clay or clean up if I am not feeling excited. But I find it easier to get into the groove now than I used to. I don’t need to trick myself so much.