A large part of my job as an artist is to act as a translator for the unconscious mind. One of the advantages of visual thinking as opposed to literal or linear thinking is that it gives us alternative ways to look at things. Perhaps one of my functions as an artist is to bring ideas into view that might not be obvious, sensible or easily understood. This does not mean that everything I do has to be revolutionary or shocking or even new. What it does mean is that I have to be open to the unexpected and cultivate it in my working process and combine things in new, often subtly altered ways

Clay, paper and pixels

I work predominantly with clay, making figures, objects and installations which are fired and usually glazed at earthenware temperatures. Clay is my medium of choice, I work with its qualities and investigate its limitations. I am not averse to including other materials but most of the time I don’t. I also draw both as part of my sculpture practice and in its own right. I use digital photography to record my sculpture and drawing as stills and movies and as a medium in its own right.

Articulate with clay

I generally create shell forms in clay, that is, I work out ways of making small structures that support themselves with their external shape, like all pottery does. You need to acquire skill to be articulate with clay, that is a challenging and fruitful subject in itself. In terms of meaning I deal with a range of ideas about change (particularly around the masculine gender role) materials and the process of making. My artwork is currently focused on still-lives, hands and figures.

Tacit skills

I use these themes to consider the changing nature of work where fewer and fewer people work with their hands to develop tacit skills – bodily skills built up by repetition over time which become instinctive at a certain point. There is a loss to be mourned in this but also we can celebrate that such skills are still a possibility even if the context in which they occur is almost unrecognisable. In the developed world we are already as likely now to develop tacit skills as part of our leisure as we are as part of our employment.

My own experience of learning and using these skills leaves me with a belief that developing hand-making skills as an artist is a positive idea which we can now see has not been replaced by conceptualism. As a student I was involved with the first wave of conceptual art. I found I could not just inhabit my mind. My body needs to be involved in making and my brain has to be engaged in working out what to make and how – and why.

Equally drawing is still alive and well and has not been washed away by the growth in photography. These things co-exist and thrive once the first apparent dichotomy subsides.

The Artists Insight

My more recent post graduate education through psycho-analysis gave me the resources to heal myself through working with others. This aspect of my development has led me to start Artists Insight, a series of (now online) sessions and workshops reflecting on the dilemmas of choosing to be an artist.

Simon Fell's Axisweb profile

The first person

This site is about my artwork, above is my artists statement where I discuss how it comes about and my intentions in making it. It’s written in the first person, intentionally – I don’t want to mystify my work by pretending to be someone else writing about it. You won’t find any Artspeak or IEA (International Art English) here, I would like my writing to be easily understood. Art is already mystifying to many people, there is no need to to obscure it behind a wall of words unless your intention is to create rarity, obscurity and bogus value.