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Nature inspires Rossendale mother’s sculptures

24 June 2014

John Edwards

Animals on display at UCLan degree show.

A Rossendale mother who returned to study at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has created a series of sculptures based on her love of nature.

Kay Kennedy worked with clay to produce ‘Birds and Squirrel’s’ as part of her MA Ceramics degree. The 56-year-old created a number of impressive sculptures depicting a variety of animals, including cockerels, crows, cats, hares and squirrels.

A former art therapist, Kay’s work was inspired by her love for nature and the outdoors.

“Animals were something that caught my imagination. I started with birds and was inspired by the blackbirds in my garden.

“I’ve created a still object so portraying the animals in movement wouldn’t have been successful. I wanted to make something that had poise about it, depicting them between two states.”

“I’ve created a still object so portraying the animals in movement wouldn’t have been successful. I wanted to make something that had poise about it, depicting them between two states.”

Alongside this, Kay was also influenced by threshold guardians, which is why all the animals are presented in pairs.

She added: “I’m very interested in threshold guardians, which are often paired to frame an entrance. In my work this suggests contrasts which draw the eye and connect across a space.”

A distinctive aspect of Kay’s work is her decision to saggar-fire her sculptures, which requires the sculpture to be placed within a box inside the kiln. This technique allowed nature to further influence her work as she was able to use natural materials such as pine cones and leaves to colour the sculptures.

Despite having a degree in Fine Art, Kay had limited experience with clay from evening classes she had attended. This proved to be a challenge but she was able to draw on the experience she gained from her previous degree.

“Not having a ceramics background it took me a while to get to grips with things. It is hugely technically challenging so there were difficulties but that makes the end product much more satisfying.

“The decision to place the animals on a homemade plinth or marquee poles came from my fine art background. I didn’t want to just make a nice sculpture but to place it in context of its natural habitat too.”