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UCLan artist shares fairy tale magic through ceramic sculptures

20 June 2013

Lyndsey Boardman

Jo tells classic stories with a modern twist

An artist from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has captured the original meanings of well-known fairy tales in a series of ceramic sculptures created for her final year degree project.

Jo Pipkin, a 45-year-old mother of two and final year ceramics student, has sculpted four models based on the tales of Little Red Riding Hood, The Pied Piper, The Emperor’s New Clothes and her own story called Baps and Buns.

Jo wanted to give the tales a modern twist and has portrayed Little Red Riding Hood as virtuous young schoolgirl tempted by an older man, the Pied Piper drawing children with a mobile phone showing the powerful influence of social media and modern society’s obsession with a perfect body image in the Baps and Buns model.

Each one has been hand modelled with added details for the characters using dental tools, fabric and wallpaper.

“It became clear that as fairy tales were told over centuries they changed to become less gruesome than the original versions. For my work I have delved into the original meanings, both literal and metaphorical, and related them to current times."

jo pipkin

Jo was inspired to share her own take on the classic stories after reading them to her two daughters aged six and four and realising that women are always depicted as evil step-mothers or damsels in distress.

After researching the roots of popular fairy tales, Jo found that over the centuries the messages have been diluted or sanitised to appeal to a younger audience.

She said: “It became clear that as fairy tales were told over centuries they changed to become less gruesome than the original versions. For my work I have delved into the original meanings, both literal and metaphorical, and related them to current times with renewed significance.”

Jo returned to education after years of working in a job centre and deciding she wanted to use her creative skills. After completing an access course at Wigan and Leigh College and realising her passion lay in ceramic art, Jo came to UCLan in 2010 and now plans to convert her garage into a place to continue her work.

“Through this project I don’t want to preach or lecture but to light heartedly highlight human imperfections and hopefully laugh at ourselves.”

Jo’s sculptures are currently on display at UCLan as part of the University’s Creative Focus Festival which features work from architecture, design, fashion, fine art, media practice and performance courses.

UCLan Vice-Chancellor Malcolm McVicar said: “The stream of creative talent flowing from our University is truly astounding and I’m delighted that we celebrate, highlight and share this work with the local community at the public view of our annual degree show.”

For more information about UCLan’s Creative Focus Festival visit www.uclan.ac.uk/cf or follow @UCLanCF on Twitter.