Q So who is Janice Parker?
A lady of “mature years”- whatever that is? Slightly demented but happily married fifty-one year old mother of two (clean your room Adam!!)
Q When did you decide to become a maker?
I’ve always drawn and made “stuff” but never in any really focused way until quite recently. In 2006 decided to do a degree in Applied Arts at Glyndwr University, Wrexham, where I had to opportunity to work with ceramics, glass and metal. I had a great time, made a lot of good, like-minded, friends and finally found my passion – working with ceramics and metal.
Q What made you choose the materials that you work with?
Like a lot of people – just fell into it. In my second year at uni I was mainly making jewellery with copper and silver, but in the third year I began making up stories and sketching little people in various situations. I tried reproducing them in various materials - wire, paper, textiles – but they didn’t have the true feel of my illustrations so I decided to try hand building and slip casting with porcelain and then applying the sketches in the form of ceramic transfers – which is how I work today.
Q What other materials would you like to work in?
I am a bit of a mixed media type person and do use paper, wood and textiles to produce little one-off narrative pieces based on fairytales. I do enjoy printing and am hoping to get time to explore this further.
Q Where do you get your inspiration from?
Mainly from day-dreaming! The “Time Thieves” series all started from me watching some magpies in the garden when I was washing-up. Over a couple of weeks the story in my head just grew – I’m still adding to it all the time.
Q What motivates you?
Not money – although it’s necessary. I just have this need to be making and using my hands – like a lot of makers I get “itchy” fingers if I’m not working.
Q Do you create your work in a studio base or a home base?
I have a workshop space, where I produce the ceramic pieces, in a Gallery/Artists Workshops run by two lovely friends. It’s on the side of a hill with panoramic views of the Cheshire plain – it’s a great location but sometimes the sitting on the deck looking at the views (drinking wine) interferes with the production rate! On the downside, I make the metal components for my pieces at home in a little, cold shed full of bikes and garden equipment – some you win some you lose.
Q Crafts in the 21st Century – what does this mean to you?
Difficult question. To some “crafts” is a dirty word and conjures up images of knitted tea cosies. To me it means the use of traditional skills and techniques to produce contemporary works. I’m not an “artist”, I’m a maker and proud of it.
Q How do you sell and promote your work?
I am quite new to this so I started by attending a couple of trade shows which got my work seen by a lot of galleries. It was quite an expensive option but I feel it was worthwhile as I am still being contacted by galleries 6-7 months after the event. Janice’s website can be found here: www.randomjanice.co.uk
Links and Galleries where my work can be seen: Mickerloo Gallery,Cheshire, Design GAP (online site), The Lion Gallery, Leominster, Hereford, Iapetus Gallery, Great Malvern, Worcs., ntAMa Studio Gallery, Todmorden, W. Yorks , Cambridge Contemporary Crafts, Cambridge, Chapel Gallery, Ormskirk, Lancs, Sussex Barn Gallery, West Dean, Chichester, W. Sussex, The Craft Centre and Design Gallery, City Art Gallery, Leeds
The Thieves of Time - Detail
Q What is your typical working day look like?
Four days a week I leave home about 8.00am for the Gallery – I do the set-up in the Café! Then after several coffees/fags I start work on the ceramics – this could be slip casting the larger pieces or hand building the figures and houses. I don’t have a set routine – just see what I fancy making that day or finishing off jobs like glazing or applying the transfers. The workshops are closed on Tuesdays so generally I do a little bit of housework (bare minimum) and then work on the metal pieces in the shed. I also work down the shed at the weekends if I’ve got a rush on with orders – can be pretty much full time some months. Must be mad!
Q What is your working style?
Illogical and unstructured.
Q 3 words of advice for an aspiring Craft artist/maker...
Experiment, Persevere, Enjoy.
Q Who is/are your favourite artist(s)/maker(s)?
My favourite artists are the painter Jenny Saville and sculptors Rachel Whiteread and Doric Salcedo. I love makers who work with narrative themes and make me smile such as Samantha Bryan, Julie Arkell and Robert Race. A young maker who I admire is Helena Sharpley – her wire scenes are amazing.
Magpie on Stand & Man and Peanut
Q What music do you listen to?
Quite a mixture – I love Pink she just makes me want to dance. I also listen to Keane, The Killers and Maroone 5 ( music to slit your wrist’s to according to my daughter). At the moment I am mad on Muse and Plan B – played very loudly in the car. My secret pleasure is a bit of Michael Buble.
Q 3 likes and dislikes?
I like my cat, hazelnut chocolate and smoking. I dislike earwigs, the smell of kippers and smoking!
Q What do you do to relax?
I love computer games – Zelda rocks! I also like going to the cinema by myself and consuming large quantities of popcorn whilst watching some god-awful rom-com – bliss.
Based in Chester, Janice is a contemporary artist/maker who combines various materials and techniques to produce three-dimensional imaginary worlds. She is drawn to the kitsch and quirky – things which make her smile such as automata, robots and flying plaster ducks.
In the past she has used resin, fabric, felt, wood and copper to realise her ideas. However, her most recent work is constructed from slip cast and hand built porcelain to which she has applied her own illustrations in the form of transfers. These porcelain pieces are then further enhanced by the addition of patinated copper and wooden elements. The design of the individual pieces harks back to the tradition of 17th Century Staffordshire flat-back figurines.
Entitled “The Thieves of Time, the Magpies and the Star Machine, these pieces depict scenes from a tale from my imagination. The Thieves of Time control the movement of the stars and the production of “time” – they make the world go around. Having trapped and trained magpies (rewarding them with peanuts!) to steal items concerned with timekeeping - watches, clocks, egg-timers, etc – they then extract the tiny bits of time still contained in the mechanisms by putting them into their star machine. These stars shoot out into the universe and thus replace the time we humans are frittering away.