Phoebe Cummings is an artist who works in clay. Intriguingly, she uses the material in its raw form – so unfired and unglazed – for sculptures that are usually site specific. Inspired by nature (either real or imagined), her pieces are ornate, fragile and, often, decay over time – giving them a wistful dynamism. The writer, Imogen Greenhalgh, has described them rather lyrically as ‘holding bays for her thoughts and ideas’. This is clay as performance art but, perhaps most importantly, in her hands, the material becomes extremely beautiful.
Phoebe was the winner of the British Ceramics Biennial Award in 2011, picked up the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize in 2017 for a fountain entitled Triumph of the Immaterial, and was a finalist for the Arts Foundation 25th anniversary awards in 2018.
She’s had exhibitions at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, a solo show at the University of Hawaii and residencies at Camden Arts Centre and the V&A, among other places.
In this episode we talk about: the relationship between clay and writing; finding solace in poetry during lockdown; her love of sci-fi and the importance of nature; how permanence is overrated; and why declaring herself bankrupt in her early twenties changed her work for the better.
It’s quietly mesmerising stuff.
Find out more about Phoebe Cummings