Thursday, 19 February 2015

Artist Feature: The Wonderful work of Anna Collette Hunt

I came across ceramicist Anna Collette Hunt's work in an issue of Homes & Antiques magazine, and was blown away by 'Stirring the Swarm'- a huge installation work comprised of 10,000 handmade ceramic insects. The swarm winds its way up staircases, dispersing organically and creating an impact that carries you away with it- a magical and enchanting fairytale of curiosities. 

Anna's work has incredible impact as a large scale installation, but each individual piece is unique, striking and beautiful with textured detail and different colour combinations. I love the rich and lustrous palette that Anna works in and the quality and skill of her craft.

Since graduating, Anna has built up a unique portfolio of different collections of work, her ancient beetles, moths and butterflies being just one collection. There is no doubt that 'Swarm' will be taking Anna to great places. 

1. How did your business come about (and when did you start)?

I started my business in early 2010 a couple of months after graduating from Nottingham Trent University the previous year (BA Hons Decorative Arts). I never really intended to set up that quickly, but I had a number of conspiring factors that gave me no choice! I won a solo exhibition as a prize in the Nottingham Castle Open Exhibition, which was to take place in October 2010, and I had big plans for this, so really had to get a studio together pretty swiftly to get on working and researching for my solo show!

2. Can you give a quick insight into your working method?

I am a dreamer by nature. I love to create stories in my mind, that feature peculiar fragments of nature, history, past dreams and ancient folktales. I regularly visit museums and stately homes for inspiration. I admire the blend of history, decadence and the hints of natural history that you find, particularly in period houses, Calke Abbey is my favourite. These blends can be identified in my ceramic work, and they entice me to keep moving forward with fresh ideas.

I use a range of evolving techniques in my work. I adore exploring surface decoration techniques in ceramics. There is just so much you can do with clay. I use a range of simple techniques that when used in unison create deep and intriguing surface illustrations.

3. What has been the hardest single obstacle to your life in design?

I really miss my time in the workshop at university to explore techniques and use their facilities. Most of all I miss the plaster room, you could be incredibly messy and there were absolutely no repercussions! I have to be so careful in my studio not to contaminate anything. I have to treat plaster as if it were a bio hazard.

4. How do you stay motivated? What inspires you?

Research and creating new work drives me forward. Staying intune with my interests is very important for me. I hate it when you feel your mind start to stagnate. If I ever pass near to this point I take a bit of time out to create my own brief and find a subject I am interested in, and then the dreaming starts. Waltzing with new ideas is my favourite thing. 

5. What has been the icing on the cake for you as an artist?

I was recently asked to design an exclusive collection of ceramic insects for Liberty and it was just my proudest moment delivering the collection to the store. I just can’t wait to see how they display the work, and hear what customers think!

6. Who do you admire (other artists/designers; other people generally) and what/who are your biggest influences, past or present?

I saw a tea pot by Kate McBride at CAA when I was at school and at that moment in time my eyes lit up and I experienced such marvel and wonder. I was really struck at how an object could render this. I stated to dissect the sensation further to try to understand what had triggered it. It was a beautiful piece, but I was astounded by how someone could create such beauty with their hands. At that moment I decided I would love to create that sensation for others!

7. Describe your creative space

It’s a time capsule of dreams and imagination. I hoard lots of things and have many many treasures. These could be bones found on a walk or intriguing jewellery abandoned and reused from a charity shop. Most often the studio is a mess and in chaos, but it is a work in progress, that’s how I see it!

8. What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Ensure that you are always enjoying what you make and follow your instincts!

You can keep up to date with Anna's work here...

(all above images are © Anna Collette Hunt)