Justine Allison | Episode 934
Since leaving Camberwell College of Art in 1998 Justine Allison has been primarily working with hand-built porcelain. Justine’s work addresses the boundaries between function and decoration. Form is paramount; function is a driving motivation, but it is the aesthetics of a piece that are key to Justine’s making. The early influences from London; buildings, windows, streets and sounds remain with Justine although living in rural Wales.
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Do you see yourself as an artist or a craftsperson?
Both. It’s all one, I think. You need a bit of both.
Do you feel there’s a difference between the two?
Yes, I do. There’s definitely different approaches, there is, but I think everything has a thought and everything comes from somewhere and that’s why it is too close to call sometimes.
I would say your work is refined. Would you say that refined work raises the level from craft to art? Does that make sense?
It does make sense. I would hope not because I think there’s a place for everything and there’s a different use. That’s quite a trick one because I have a lot of mugs that I love using and they give me as much pleasure as something that I don’t use, in fact I probably get more pleasure from them.
Your work has striped patterns, how do you go about getting your stripes so fine and precise?
I do have a really steady hand. I use tiny strips of tape so it’s applied but it’s all done by eye and it’s all done by hand and the other ones are done with drawing.
Do you ever have to write sales copy for your work?
Yes, I do.
Does that come naturally or is it a struggle?
It can be a bit of a struggle. I think you feel as if you have to keep writing something new but my problem is because I am not a writer when I ‘ve written one good thing I think that still applies, so I know that I have to refresh it. I quite often start something and get in touch with some of my contemporaries and we will all have a look at it if it’s big.
Did you ever have a struggle finding a place for your work? Finding a home for your work?
What do you mean home?
An audience, people that actually take it into their lives.
I think it took a while for people because I wouldn’t say my work is easy work. People are intrigued by it but a lot of people are not sure where they are going to have it. So it does take somebody with a different vision, especially now because a lot of people think they have to have the space around for it, to enjoy it. I think with earlier pieces of work it was easier. It had more of a function.
Why ceramics? Why didn’t you chase down metal work or jewelry or why didn’t you chase down painting? What was it about ceramics that captured you?
I think I know the answer to that, my foundation, I had a go at metal work,