Artist Biography - Rowena Brown
Based in London for the last 20 years, Rowena started her career after obtaining her BA in Fashion Design from St. Martins School of Art. She went onto graduate with a MA in Fine Art from the University of Leeds, after two years living in California, where she developed her ceramic skills, discovering and learning the process of raku-firing. Brown has since exhibited work all o...ver the UK and in the USA. She works mainly in sculptural ceramics, the pieces often being in pairs, groups or series and much of her work is concerned with architectural spaces
“My current work is hand built architectural forms which are coloured with slips, part-glazed and earthenware or raku fired. The ceramic process – particularly the rapid and unpredictable nature of raku (where the red hot ceramic is plunged into combustible material) – reinforces a sense of irrevocable change. The pieces show a real and implied history acquired by their passage through fire and smoke. Yet they now have a stillness and solitude. They become vessels for reminiscence and contemplation’’
Each sculpture has its own character and they are distinguished by their individual surface texture, marks and features, with many works evoking a sense of abandonment. Individually dark, empty and isolated, when the artist groups her ceramics together, they appear to form a miniature community, representing human interaction and suggestive of human presence by the absences of human figures.
Brown uses media images showing the aftermath of man-made disruption and environmental disaster to draw inspiration from. The artist also looks back to time spent in coastal areas, particularly on Hebridean islands, referencing photographs of weather-worn and derelict structures which she produced during this time. The rapid and unpredictable nature of her inspiration, is reflected in her ceramic process, as her medium - raku - is highly combustable. Brown's sculptures become a form for reminiscence and contemplation, as they show a real and implied history acquired by their journey through fire and smoke, whilst remaining solitude.
"After all these years of making, the creative process is still what inspires me. I love spending my days in the studio sculpting, decorating, experimenting. I like the combination of having creative control and letting the unpredictability of the ceramic process play its part. I look at and photograph buildings, particularly abandoned structures with their history-revealing surfaces, and use this to inform my work. This often takes me to the wild coastal places that I love"
After working from a studio shed at the bottom of her South London garden, Brown is in the process of moving to Hebridean Island, where her new studio will look out onto a wilder blue and grey scene of sea and sky, Here she wishes to find calm, turning away from her studio walls - covered with images of dilapidation, distressed and ruin buildings - and looking out onto the scenic landscape
As well as being widely exhibited, her work has been featured in many publications including Ceramic Review, The Guardian, The Telegraph. In 2015, Brown was awarded the 'Best Newcomer' to the Ceramic Art show in London.