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Jenette Coldrick; My Private Narnia

Jenette Coldrick; My Private Narnia

Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in Cornwall in 1952, on a small farm. I was inspired by the artists I met as a child, Isobel Heath in particular, encouraged me to watch and participate in the creative process.

 Working from my studios in Redcar and micro pottery in Stamford, I use my work to explore my emotions, memory and the environment. I fill my work with the excitement I feel for life. Over the years I have experimented with and embraced many different mediums.

 I studied Ceramics at the Ulster College of Art and Design in Belfast. One of the most progressive art establishments in the 1970's. Even though the College and surrounding buildings came under regular bombing, I enjoyed my time there. I was tutored in painting by Niel Shawcross and pottery by David Leech, who taught me so much about hand building. I have to admit I was not in awe of David Leach, firstly, he was just a nice old man with innovative ideas in hand-building pottery and at 19 years of age I was very naïve and I had never heard of Leach Pottery. All the other students were whispering in awe on our first day with him. I had to go to the library and look him up.

I find it very strange that his hand-built (slabbed) pieces are nowhere to be found.



How would you describe your work?

My work expresses how I feel at the moment of creation.


As an artist, what inspires you? What drives you to create?

When I am creating, I am in my own safe place locked away from the world. My private Narnia. I can express how I feel about the bad stuff. All the bad confusing life stuff has gone but the nightmares find the minute cracks some times.

 I have been creative from the moment I can remember, and I can remember being in a cot and a pram, not able to sit up. I studied the colour and shapes around me and thought what if... What if I hit that, what if I closed one eye, what if I shake my head very fast. When I could walk; what If I put this red stuff on Andy Pandy’s face… he looked much better.


Art piece of a woman sitting called Regression



In your time as an artist, how would you say your work has changed?

My work has become free and more spontaneous I have to work when I am physically able. There used to be an element that said I have to sell to pay the rent. Now I am free to let go.


I know you have experimented with many different mediums, have any of these surprised you? Are there any that you really didn’t like?

I enjoy the effects of charcoal when blended with acrylic and spray cans. I used to dislike charcoal on paper because I had a dictatorial teacher at A level who tried to kill everyone's joy of creation.


 What advice would you give to any newer artists/yourself just starting out again?

To the budding Artist I say, Enjoy yourself, do what you want to do. There are opportunities out there which were unavailable 50 years ago. However watch out for the cons, like in any other profession there are nasty folks who just want your money.

 To me; Get a driving licence in your teens. Don’t get married, don’t have children and get the hell out of Ireland. Go live with your Grandma in Cornwall!

Opportunities are at your fingertips now. I emerged from art college way before the internet and affordable couriers. I lived in Northern Ireland In the 60s to the 80s. Armageddon and living in the past!


Art piece "stiffled light" of a woman laying and covering her eyes

Stiffled light


Due to having spinal stenosis, you have adapted your ways of working to better work for you. How have these changes enhanced your art?

I have had to find easier ways of working. I can only work out of bed when my spine allows. When I am confined to lying down I have digital mediums at my finger tips. These adjustments, I feel, have enhanced the character of my work.  I love throwing but throwing no longer likes me as much. I have a tool to help me centre the clay and an opening tool which is very good and which helps with the heavy work. I have to work smaller these days. I love throwing with my eyes closed just feeling the pot take shape. I have concentrated on creating and testing ash glazes for a few years now.

Ceramic head with bold and plate detail  


Do you have a piece/collection you have done which you consider a favourite? Why is that? I have quite a few pieces I haven't shown, mainly pottery. Every piece is important while in creation. Once created it is history. I sometimes go back through portfolios and say “Did I do that?” That’s my big drawback to visibility, I don’t try very hard at promoting my work. I could do with an agent!


 What is next for you? What are you working on at the moment?

I have been inspired by the theme for next years British Ceramic Biannual, Eco-friendly ceramics.

We hear so much about climate change, sustainability, re-purposing and recycling. I was born in an age when preserving was very much the unspoken rule. Britain was still reeling from the effects of WW2. This has remained with me all my life and I have been derided often for my practice. I am working with a recycled radio antenna array, gifted by a retired radio ham. Wire from a failed vape shop, glass fibre from a repair shop, leftover carbon fibre from a builder, and glass from landfill.  I reuse unfired clay and recover clay washed down the sink into a settling tub. I also reuse glazes, use ash for flux and egg shells as an alternative to calcite in my glazes. Reuse shards from broken pots and fire only full kiln loads. I have solar-powered lighting in the workshop.


Thank you so much for sharing your work, ethos, and excitement for life!
How can people find more of your work?

Instagram: @jenettecoldrickmorrell
Twitter: @JenetteColdrick

Facebook: Jenettecoldrickart



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