Skip to main content
Ceramics & Glass (MA)

Emma Marks

Emma Marks uses the sensuality of making with clay as a basis to reimagine our relationships with things. Her ideas span between embodied learning and world-making.

Emma uses multiple approaches to explore what we can learn from the enrapturing act of working with clay and offers us new encounters using ceramics, film, sound and photography.

Whilst at the RCA, she has engaged in teaching practice at the University of Hertfordshire and has assisted with Clay for Dementia workshops at the Garden Museum, London.

Emma has a BSc in Physiology from the University of Bristol and a BA in Sculpture from Camberwell College of Arts. She has taken part in several artist-led group shows since 2012. Selected exhibitions and awards include: HIX Award Finalist 2015, Penguin Art Prize 2015, East Sussex Open at Towner Gallery 2016.

Emma intends to grow her investigative practice and to find more opportunities to exhibit installations rooted in ceramics. She loves to collaborate and looks forward to engagement through workshops and teaching.

My practice draws parallels between ceramic processes and rethinking how we live in the more-than-human world.

I turn to the event of building a ceramic vessel to reimagine what we think we already know: How to make a pot? How to live in a world?

This portfolio showcases interlocking projects using ceramics, film, sound and photography. With naivety and wisdom, each project uses the event of creating a ceramic vessel as a microcosm to ask:

What happens if we look and feel through a less familiar lens,

With more sensuality,

With less human-centric narratives?


Elven11am, 2021 — Terracotta slipware 24 x 13 x 11cm
Marchmarch, 2021 — Terracotta slipware 23 x 15 x 15cm
A Friday Fiction, 2021 — Glazed porcelain 18 x 11 x 10cm
April Anthropo, 2021 — Terracotta slipware, 24x16x16cm
A Dark Thursday Afternoon, 2021 — Glazed porcelain 26.5 x 15 x 15cm
A Cloudy Day, 2021 — Terracotta slipware 30 x 20 x 20cm

Each vessel is a testimony to the act of working with the more-than-human world with sensuality, curiosity and humility.

If I am reappraising the vessel, I do so with humility. The vessel is my microcosm to ask the question - what happens if..?  Like a world in itself, the idea of the vessel is a a huge and complex system with an enormous history. At the same time, both are ‘of the everyday’ and accessible to all.

Each vessel encounter (both for me as the maker and you as the viewer) is a small opportunity to look and feel through a less familiar lens, with more sensuality and with less human-centric narratives.

Medium:

Glazed Porcelain and Terracotta slipware

Size:

variable
Trailer for Novum100 — Full length film with sound (07:42 minutes) Plays on loop, 2021

Plays on loop

For projection in dark room with double curtains to enter

No furniture or headphones within. 

Come to our physical degree show in Spring 2022 to see this immersive film.


Instead of the god-like gaze of a maker looking down upon their creation, Novum100* imagines different ways of conceiving how a vessel comes into being by filming upwards inside the vessel during the hand-building process.

Novum100 is a 7-minute mesmeric trip that transports us through multiple realms of creation fiction during the vessel’s making.

The critter-like hands that appear in the film, suggest more sympoietic** processes of becoming. 


*Darko Suvin introduced the idea of a “Novum” as a device or “strange newness” used in science fiction that compels us to imagine a different way of conceiving our world. Extract from Estrangement and Cognition, 1979 in SCIENCE FICTION: Documents of Contemporary Art edited by Dan Byrne Smith, Cambridge, Massachusetts, The MIT Press, 2020, pp 36-39.

** “Sympoieses is a simple word; it means “making-with.” Nothing makes itself; nothing is really autopoietic or self-organizing ... Sympoiesis is a word proper to complex, dynamic, responsive, situated, historical systems. It is a word for worlding- with, in company.” Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble, New York, USA, Duke University Press, 2016, p.58. 

Medium:

Film with sound (07:42 minutes)
Front view of Vessels as Residues, 2021 — Ceramic and clay on acrylic plinths placed above small digital printed images
Top view of Becoming 0.6 — Animated example of looking into vessel mouth
Top view of Becoming 0.6 — Animated example of looking into vessel mouth

Each of these vessels was made during during film experiments. Although my hands will have been intuitively working with the clay, my eyes and ears will have been entirely focussed on the recording equipment, positioning myself as best I could, to see and hear from the clay’s perspective.

Each vessel is just one manifestation of the making event, acknowledged with equivalence to the films, memories, speculations, bodily learning, sensations and other residues. 

I have retained 8 vessels from my film experiments. Here, 4 vessels are presented on acrylic plinths. When you look into the vessel mouth, you will see a still image captured during its making process - like a dissected slice of time.

Becoming 0.3 - glazed terracotta slipware on acrylic plinth, 21x10x10cm

Becoming 0.4 - unfired white earthenware on acrylic plinth, 23x10x10cm

Becoming 0.5 - High fired terracotta on acrylic plinth, 25x10x10cm

Becoming 0.6 - glazed terracotta slipware on acrylic plinth, 24x7.5x7.5cm

Medium:

Clay and Ceramic on acrylic plinths above small digital prints

Size:

various: (21 to 24cm tall)
Rewilding: The Dyson Stairwell, 2021 — Risograph print, A4
Rewilding: The Dyson Stairwell, 2021 — Glazed porcelain, 18x13x13cm
Rewilding: My Studio Chair, 2021 — Glazed porcelain 21x13x12cm
Rewilding: My Studio Chair, 2021 — Risograph print, A4
Rewilding: The Woo Bridge, 2021 — Risograph print, A4
Rewilding: The Woo Bridge, 2021 — Glazed porcelain, 13x10x8cm
Rewilding: Outside the Tutors' Office, 2021 — Glazed porcelain, 11x10x9cm
Rewilding: Outside the Tutors' Office, 2021 — Risograph print, A4
Rewilding: Near the Jigger Jolly, 2021 — Risograph print, A4
Rewilding: Near the Jigger Jolly, 2021 — Glazed porcelain, 19x12x8cm
Rewilding: Through the Workshop Window, 2021 — Glazed porcelain, 20x16x8cm
Rewilding: Through the Workshop Window, 2021 — Risograph print, A4

After the second lockdown of 2021, we were permitted to return to the Battersea campus in small groups on a periodic basis. The stairwells, corridors and in-between spaces that had once held the bustle of our art school now held the disquiet of a post-apocalyptic space. Workshops were empty and making equipment was cordoned off. One-way systems, electronic passes and online bookings governed our restricted and ultra- hygienic movements within the buildings.

Rewilding at the RCA is a series of vessels formed from nooks and crannies around the Battersea campus with the hope and defiance of weeds.

These forms have a nest-like quality against our human architecture. They could have grown organically or been formed by insects, birds or even alien beings. This provocation decentres our human narrative and turns our attention to the possibilities of unprescribed world-making.

“We are surrounded by many world-making projects, human and non human.... To see them in the shadow of the antropocene’s “anthropo”, we must re-orient our attention.” * 


*Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 2015, p21-22. 

Medium:

Glazed porcelain and Risograph prints

Size:

various and A4
Sensual Encounters with Ordinary Things, A Speculation — RCA Dissertation by Emma Marks 2020

An exploration of haptic experience with ordinary things. This dissertation defines and speculates what it means to practice Sensual-encounters within the context of multiple scenarios. It makes connections between sensuality and how we relate to the more-than-human world.

Medium:

Dissertation, 2020

In the beginning, Lauren wrote –

“All that you touch You Change

All that you Change Changes you...”*


In this sense are we not all makers?

If living is making,


Let us revel in the consciousness of change,

Let us revel in the reciprocity of attuned touch,

Let us revel in sensual encounters,

Let us revel in the humility and wonderment of subjective experience,

Let us revel in the strangeness of the familiar.




*This devotion is inspired by the fictional religion of Earthseed written by Octavia Butler in Parable of the Sower, 1993, p.2.

“All that you touch You Change.

All that you Change Changes you.

The only lasting truth Is Change

God is Change” 




For enquiries, commissions or any information about our physical Degree Show next Spring, please email me at emma.marks@network.rca.ac.uk