Emma Westmascott is a ceramic artist based in Cheshire, she works in her garden studio in the peaceful countryside. Having no formal training in the arts, she decided to revisit her love for ceramics later on in life, which led her to discover her distinct brutal ceramic works.Emma’s work is inspired by mid 20th century design, in particular Brutalist architecture. She loves the beautiful wooden formwork used to cast ‘béton brut’ concrete walls which take on the natural surface of the wood leaving a memory of the maker.
Emma’s slip cast porcelain vessels are created using a stack of individual mould sections. After each single cast, the plaster mould is physically altered using a variety of tools. Each subsequent cast creates a new unique form resulting in a ‘family’ of one-off pieces, never to be repeated.
What are your main themes you’re interested in?
My current work revolves around exploring ways to create new textures in my pieces. I use ‘found’ surfaces or experiment with ways to create my own. This might be by using wood or paper or by chiselling plaster for example. I am currently obsessed with patterned concrete underpasses and I’m returning to the wooden modular moulds I made during my MA bringing me back to the original formwork inspiration. I find I create most successfully through experimentation and respond to materials as I work and the outcome isn’t necessarily planned at the beginning.
Why do you use the processes and materials you use?
I am a slip caster, which means I create work by pouring liquid clay into plaster moulds. The liquid clay (or slip) forms a skin where it touches the dry plaster and this is what forms the piece. I developed a casting method during my MA that allows me to stack up mould sections and create unique pieces by re-configuring the moulds. I absolutely love the slip-casting process. It is a rhythmic, peaceful process that I am easily lost in. The pleasure of forming a solid object from the liquid slip is magical. I mainly use terracotta and porcelain in my work. Terracotta is basically an industrial clay and I love the honest, forgiving warmth it has. Porcelain has a silky, smooth feel to it and I like to leave the finished pieces unglazed to allow the ghostly purity to shine through. I also use CAD and 3D printing as tools to problem solve and develop ideas where I can. This has opened all kinds of possibilities for me. I used it to develop my back stamp in my work and I have streamlined various making processes by 3D printing tools I have designed.
What philosophies do you live by?
I try to make the most of every day and count my blessings. The last twelve months have made clear to me how important that is. I try very hard not to be afraid of failing. To give things a go and not worry too much about what the outcome may or may not be. It’s sometimes hard, but I’m getting better at it. I am a creative person and seem to have an innate need to create. I try to make sure I do something creative every day. It also makes me determined to make my business succeed.