Rachel Leary - Ceramics & Jewellery
About Rachel Leary
I create a range of functional ceramic wares in porcelain, and Egyptian Faience jewellery.
My bottle vases and bowls are made by slip casting in plaster moulds which I create myself, they are finished with glaze and some include a ceramic decal of my own original pen and ink drawings.
My earrings and brooches are made from an unusual material; Egyptian Faience. This is a self-glazing mix of clay and glass materials which dates back to the ancient Egyptians who used it to create beads and small figurines.
Throughout university I experimented with this material and adapted recipes to create a vast range of qualities which still surprises me every time I fire it.
When did you start taking an interest in art?
Since a very young age, I have always loved to draw and paint and only ever wanted to be an artist. I made many things at school from clay but it always frustrated me... probably something to do with my work regularly blowing up in the kiln!
While studying ceramics at Belfast School of Art I was finally able to understand the potentails and failures of clay, and the endless possibilities of the material intrigued me so much.
What course have you studied or currently studying?
I started university life at Belfast School of Art by completing a Foundation Degree in Art and Design, and then continued with a degree in Contemporary Applied Art. I then furthered my artistic education with a Masters degree in Ceramics at Cardiff School of Art in Wales.
Who or what inspires your art?
I live in the countryside and so have always been inspired by nature. I love to draw botanical style images with splashes of colour like the ones I include in my ceramics, and I try to glaze my work as organically as I can. Organic colour, form and texture are all particular qualities that inspire my sculptural work which you can check out on my website.
What do you hope people take from your work?
I hope that by bringing some of our natural world into the home, customers are able to brighten up their surroundings with a unique and completely handmade piece of design. My jewellery is simplistic, but the high fired Egyptian Faience creates a beautiful glossy finish in vibrant colours. I hope that anyone wearing my earrings and brooches can enhance their look with this special and interesting material used in a modern way.
Do you have any other interests?
Work takes up most of my time but when I can, I enjoy visiting exhibitions and art shows. In my down time, I love to take walks and go travelling. I try to always have something to work towards or look forward to, such as a trip, a ceramic residency or an important exhibition.
What is your favourite memory of you time at Ulster University?
Without a doubt this would be our final year show. My year included a close group of fantastic female ceramic artists who still try our best to get together for a joint exhibition. It was a pleasure to work alongside them all, and to look around and see how much we had each achieved after our 3 years together was a definitely a special moment!
What is next for you creatively?
Right now, I am focusing on expanding my home studio and offering more workshops. I also hope to create a new range of functinal designs this year which include more experimental qualities with layers of textures and colour.