“My ceramic vessels are made by hand using slabs of clay, blended coils, layered slips and glazes. Each sculptural vessel is unique. Some are large and some are small; on each one there are smooth areas, tears, cracks in the clay, rusted colour, like the patina of years. Each piece is full of deliberate imperfections – rips, marks, unequal symmetries – and yet each one is complete. Each vessel is a single, whole piece, top and bottom: a container that can fill up with time and presence.
I begin by carving and stretching the clay: every instance is different, defined by my manipulations, the physical make-up of clay, and by sheer serendipity. I build up layers of glaze, slip and underglaze, obscuring the form and then wiping these layers away, showing and hiding different parts.
Suffused at once with accident and intention, remnants linger in the recesses. The vessels are made to have the appearance of being weather-worn and ancient, unbroken by time. Each one has an opening, a small portal that draws the viewer deep into the abyss. The space the vessel holds is made more powerful by one’s inability to see within.”
Michelle Bishop has been working with clay for 30 years. She studied at the Haliburton School of Art and with ceramic artists Jim Thomson, Chandler Swain and Leta Cormier. She taught ceramics at Ottawa Montessori for 5 years and is a member of 260 Fingers Ceramic Exhibition. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario.