Helena Lacy is a Ceramicist and Sculptor based in London, UK. After studying textiles and fashion, she went on to graduate from Wimbledon College of Art with a degree in Technical Arts and Special Effects for Stage and Screen. Helena's work has now been featured in 50 exhibitions across the world, and she's recently seen one of her pieces feature in Architectural Digest China - no mean feat! Scroll down to read out interview with Helena.
How did you start working with ceramics?
After graduating from university I went on to find a studio. It was there that I realised that I'd learnt many technical skills, based towards working in the film and television industry, but hadn't developed my style as an artist. I would spend a long time developing my ideas only to find that the sculptures that I was making were very tricky to mould and cast, especially as the studio that I was in had no windows or ventilation. During this time I had to find another way of creating sculptures, and it was then that I found ceramics. I thought it was perfect – you can make any shape sculpture you want, put it in a kiln, and done! Little did I know how wrong I was!
Who/ what are your biggest inspirations?
I find inspiration in the nature that I see around me. I like collecting things from nature, such as rocks and minerals, and using them as reference points in my sculptures. Textures and patterns in these forms are often recreated in my work; rock formations, stalagmites, crystals and lava - nature is my biggest inspiration. Artists who inspire me include Jean Arp, Ken Price, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Betty Woodman and Takuro Kuwata
What themes do you explore in your work?
Shapes, particularly curved shapes from nature are a theme in my work. The ease with which one can enjoy natural forms such as rocks and mineral formations is something I try to replicate, and I focus on curved shapes which I find the most sensory. I believe that they can evoke a feeling of comfort. It is important to me that the viewer derives a sense of joy from my work. My fondness for curves is also apparent in my 'Pot Ladies', who were inspired by Gaia the Earth Goddess and the Venus figurines. Prior to 'Pot Ladies' I created a series called ‘Skye’ which was based on the female body. Taking aspects of the body that are traditionally feminine and putting them back together to create an abstract expression of the female form.
I also like my work to encourage a playful attitude to ceramics, reminding the audience of the open approach we have to art in our childhood - learning with our hands; interacting with and discovering objects.
How do you develop your ideas and what’s your process of working?
I like to push the boundaries of clay to see how far I can make the medium curve and stretch using the coil building technique. I start by drawing my idea of a sculpture out and then work from this drawing. During the process of building a 3D sculpture from my 2D image, I discover challenges and sometimes edits need to be made.
Where do you work from? How do you like to work?
I work from my studio in Deptford, London and manage to get there a few days a week; when I get there I keep my head down and work non-stop until it's time to leave. I've realised I don't really give myself many breaks since I'm not able to go to the studio every day I try to make the most of my time there.
Have you been able to make a career/ living from your ceramic work?
I started working with ceramics around 4 years ago. The first few years were mostly spent learning about the many different processes, experimenting with ideas, and finding what worked and what suited my style of sculpture. During this time of experimentation, I worked part-time as a framer, as well as doing freelance work as a set dresser and prop maker. I feel that I am now on the cusp of turning my practice into a business, and can turn my passion into a career.
Where can people buy your pieces?