Helen Martino

I describe my pots as ‘serious, posh and frivolous’ because for many years I was a functional potter, making batches of domestic pots on the wheel. These recent sculptures are hand built individually and each is considered separately. This change in direction followed the death of my youngest child, Tom, at 15 in a steamboat accident.

My work completely changed, and I started to use a hand building technique using soft and flexible sheets of clay.

The sheets of clay are freely cut, curved and sometimes twisted. I play with perspective by distorting the objects as in a stage set.

By inclination I am also a painter, and I view these flattened forms as three dimensional canvases. The surfaces are painted with slips, underglaze pigments, and resists. Sometimes I add silver and gold lustres.

I am fascinated by body language and how it communicates. In my ceramic sculptures the exaggerated and stylised movements of the silent movies has seemed a natural way to portray communication and narrative as the sculptures depict moments in the everyday life of people.

I have been looking at Mogul and Persian miniatures and how they tell a story within a single image. Often they show significant events within the life span of a person or a family. My sculptures are intimate in size and like the miniatures tell of a single moment or event and yet they infer a past and future story to be filled in by the viewer.

I work in a series of pieces within a single narrative, each successive sculpture expressing the story in a different way through a change in scale, movement, composition or colour.

Influences have come from contemporary potters such as Gordon Baldwin and particularly John Maltby who showed me, at the right moment in my life, that pottery can be sculptural and above all a means of communication and expression as well as being things of beauty.

I work in Cambridge and exhibit widely in galleries in the UK also in Belgium and Holland. I am a founder member of Cambridge Open Studios where in weekends in July artists invite the public into their studios and workplaces. I enjoy this side of my life as it makes me express aloud the pleasure and joy I get from using clay.

A Contemporary Art Gallery in Cornwall