SARAH NOEL Ceramic Sculpture
Sarah Noel works alongside her sister Anna in their tiny shared studio. She studied ceramics at Bristol Polytechnic gaining a BA Degree in 1983 before setting up the present studio with her sister.
Sarah prefers to work mostly in two dimensions. Although most of her pieces have a back and a front, they are largely pictorial in character combining references to the old Staffordshire flatbacks with elements as diverse as Islamic art and Indian shadow puppets.
“I have two rather different image groups. One has images which spring from my enjoyment of all things theatrical. Theatre architecture, stage sets and costume, posing and gesturing figures, fancy dress, historical costume – especially from the 1930’s and designs by Erte and the razzmatazz of circuses and fairgrounds also fascinate me. I also enjoy the solemn simplicity of mediaeval drawings, religious icons and Indian miniatures with their economy of line, powerful features and sensitive decoration. Out of these influences come my ladies and gentlemen in extravagant costumes playing instruments or holding birds, and mermaids and mermen.
The other group of images is influenced by my enjoyment of old toys – especially tin toys. Living by the sea gives me the opportunity to draw the boats and ships in nearby marina and docks. These sources result in my ceramic images of fishing boats and ships, some with sailors and seagulls, aeroplanes with begoggled pilots, hot-air balloons with passengers, and light-houses and locomotives.”
Sarah’s double-sided ceramic pieces are made by drawing on to rolled out slabs of clay with a knife and cutting out two identically shaped silhouettes. After decoration, the edges of the slabs are stuck together with slip, leaving a splayed gap for the base. The biscuit, and raku, firings are shared with her sister and are conducted in much the same way.