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Upcoming Degree Show and The History of Blue

May 25, 2015

I have been so busy making recently, and there are only two days left of the degree show build! The Private view is on the 5th June, and then it opens to the public (For Free!) from the 6th till the 14th June. Here are some of the pieces that I will be exhibiting up in the Master of Design and Craft section, and a short piece about the History of Blue, and its use in my current work.


These are some of the Scatter Jars / Urns for partial remains.

lots of porcelain!

Thrown porcelain with reduction glazes

raku and two porcelain

Two porcelain reduction fired urns, and one Resist Raku finish over petra

smallies at posh totty

Various clay bodies and sizes, from a photoshoot at POSH TOTTY’s Brighton Sydney Street store





























Dual Urns

I have already documented these urns in a previous post, but now they have multiplied!

The finished Deep Barium Glazed piece!

The finished Deep Barium Glazed piece!

split blue sw

Blue Stoneware vessel

big white

Tin White Earthenware glaze, with Gold lustre





















As well as using earthenware glazes, I have also been developing stoneware ones, such as the glossy blue one above, and using lustres to add luxurious  detailing. I love experimenting with glazes, and one of my favourite glaze applications is spray glazing. I have been developing the spray technique even more this year by using different shades of blue combined together, as well as lustres and enamels to add layers of colour, pattern and texture.

two tall splits 1 two tall splits 2













I have been researching into the colour BLUE extensively for this project, and have written a short piece about the history of the colour and why I am using it in my work.


Blue is a colour that has evolved to mean many diverse things, to different cultures and people. It’s meaning and symbolic purpose has changed many times, elevating it to more than a colour to paint a living room wall in.

Blue is not an “Earth colour”, in that it does not naturally occur, or cannot be found and used without man’s intervention. Only when humans began mining could they use it. The first blue was created in this way in Afghanistan around 6000 years ago when the Ancient Egyptians began mining Lapis Lazuli. It was highly prized and was combined with gold to adorn the Pharaoh’s tombs and palaces, and is often linked with their ideas of heaven, and of rebirth.1 They also created an additional blue by heating limestone, sand and copper to form calcium copper silicate which became known as the royal turquoise pigment “Egyptian Blue”.

The Mesoamericans created another “Great Blue” of the Ancient civilisations; “Mayan Blue” which is thought to have been made by a mix of indigo plant extract, a clay mineral called Palygorskite, and resin from the Maya’s sacred incense Copal. They used this blue in ritual contexts; in offerings, as a by-product of making incense2 and in murals. The Blue-green colour was used by priests and was related to ideas around death. For this reason the sacrificed and the sacrifice stones were painted blue.3 These rituals were a way to communicate with the dead, show gratitude to the gods, and to ward of evil.

Blue remained rare and expensive until the dawn of the industrial age, possibly explaining its use and association to royalty and divinity. In his 303AD painting of the Scrovegni Chapel, Giotto used the expensive blue pigment made from Lapis Lazuli to adorn the ceiling. The ceiling is Giotto’s depiction of heaven, of paradise; a blue expanse festooned with golden stars and Jesus, Mary and other saintly figures gazing down to earth. “Blue is a veil that hides great mystery, it hides what lies beyond it, beyond the stars. This is the great mystery that God hints at, through the colour blue.”4

Christianity bestows this most sacred of colours onto one of its most famous religious icons; The Virgin Mary. She wears “a dark, wonderful and expensive blue, befitting the Queen of Heaven.”5 Later, “Mary Blue” became Navy Blue, a colour denoting trustworthiness and authority, often used by bankers and the police. The United Nations even chose a less severe, softer shade of Robin’s egg blue for their uniforms.

Artists have often used blue in their works as the ultimate colour of emotion and deep feelings; Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Gauguin’s Clovis Sleeping, Dali’s Burning Giraffe and Munch’s The Kiss. Most of these painters used blue as an expression of depression, angst and sometimes even existential crisis, but perhaps none to the extreme as to match the artist who had an entire period of his early career devoted to this idea. Pablo Picasso’s famous Blue Period is a testament to despair and redemption, to depression, and according to the great psycho analyst Carl Yung, even potential schizophrenia and mental breakdown. He painted these series of mostly portraits after the suicide of his best friend Casagemas, many of which the dead man appeared in. It is thought that Picasso used these works and the colour blue as a catharsis, painting the depression and sadness out of his life. Another artist that uses blue, almost as the sole colour and ethos of his work is Yves Klein. He invented his own blue, “International Klein Blue” as a symbol of escape – from conformity, social pressures and capitalism. He was obsessed by it; the colour of the sea and sky; of infinity. It is all around us, but always just out of reach. He wanted a blue revolution, and called his blue masterpieces “Open Windows to Freedom”6

Blue has great complexity of symbolism and meaning; it has evolved greatly in different cultures.  In American culture, “having the Blues” and “Feeling Blue” are symbols of depression, most notably connected with the musical style Rhythm and Blues (RnB); in Korea dark blue is the colour of mourning. However, in Mexico it is a colour that wards off evil and in India is used for protection and luck. In Hinduism Vishnu, the protector and preserver of the universe, is shown as having blue skin. The phrase “out of the blue” alludes to the great mysteries of life, or as coming from nowhere. To be awarded a blue ribbon is a high achievement.

Lastly during the 1960’s space race, the world saw its first images of what our world looked like – the Blue Planet. From this great celestial globe, hanging in a sea of black, illuminated by the stars, we saw blue for what it really was; the colour of home.

By investigating the colour blue, I have used these ideas and connotations to add layers of meaning to my own work. I am strongly drawn to the blue colour palette, as it shows a wide range of depth and emotion. By researching into what the colour blue means and its history as an evolving colour, I have used it to describe the journey of grief. Blue portrays grief, compassion, understanding, mourning and sadness but also a lightness and a warmth, it comes with royal and respectful connotations; sentiments that will help the grieving to grow and heal from their loss.

I enjoy the richness and the abundance of the colour, and the many shades and variations it comes in. I have used so many tones within my pieces to celebrate blue, and to allow each piece to mean something different to each person who perceives it – some will identify with the intense, vivid blues, that are thought to offer protection and ward of evil and others the quiet, more reflective lighter blue pieces that promote calmness. Everyone will experience death and mourning in numerous ways; so some will cope in a way that may seem distant or strange to our own. This collection aims to serve different notions of death and grieving, but to ultimately bring us all together in understanding and compassion.

References (Not an extensive list, but the ones that I have directly quoted from within this piece. A lot of sources and ideas are from my sketchbooks from this years projects)




4 A History of Art in Three Colours; Blue BBC Documentary, Presented by Dr James Fox  2/8/2012

5 Blue Through the Centuries; Sacred and Sought After, Natalie Angier, , The New York Times 22/10/2012

6 A History of Art in Three Colours; Blue




One Comment leave one →
  1. Aaron Hastings permalink
    September 11, 2016 9:38 am

    Hey Rachel , its Aaron here=. I have been inspired! Would you have an idea on how to make pottery using similar ‘terracotta’ methods with english soil/clay . Now THAT would be interesting!

    I am still interested in purchasing from you! My email:

    Talk soon hopefully!

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