Karen McPhail – Biography

Karen McPhail graduated from Glasgow School of Art with first class honours then completed a post graduate in ceramics in 1990. Since then she has worked on numerous art education projects and, while her three children were young, she ran a pre-school nursery. She now makes ceramics in a workshop at my home in Renfrewshire.

Artist Statement

My aim is to create visually satisfying objects for domestic environments that have a quality of surface and pattern, and that appeal to our sense of touch. My process involves layers of bold and playful decoration while retaining the inherent warmth of red earthenware clay.

Simple forms are made on the wheel, handbuilt or using plaster moulds. I collect imagery from daily life and nature to make paper collages and, before the first firing, coloured slips are brushed on to the ‘leather hard’ pieces using cut paper stencils. Newspaper lettering on the final work echoes this process. Layers of applied slip produce a subtle raised decoration and can be drawn though to reveal the red clay beneath. A second glaze firing is followed by a third for the application of printed decals.

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