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Ceramics & Glass (MA)

Phillipa Silcock

Phillipa was born in near the sea in New Zealand but has spent her adult life living and working in London.  She made the decision in 2016 to follow her creative muse as a maker/artist following a long career in urban planning. 

Relishing the change in scale and the opportunity to pursue a more personal vision, Phillipa undertook a Sculpture course at the Art Academy, London and then developed her love of glass through a series of courses and masterclasses with well known glass artists. She came to the RCA in 2020 to explore a new visual language through her work.

Phillipa works primarily in Kiln Cast Glass but also enjoys sand casting and exploring the the potential of using metal in conversation with the glass. Her work explores issues around displacement, migration and identity, looking at the places and experiences of our memories and the threats posed by environmental degradation.

Phillipa was one of 22 artists selected to show work at “Flow” the Contemporary Glass Society and Makers Guild of Wales show in Cardiff and has been awarded a partner scholarship through the RCA to study at Urban Glass in New York later this summer.


Show Location: Battersea campus: Dyson & Woo Buildings, First floor

In the mist of turbulent times, the motivation for my work is to explore concepts of identity and memory. These two interwoven themes speak both to my identity as a person living far from my place of birth and to the global condition of migration, globalisation and loss of cultural references. I create memory images that evoke sensations of place, trace, climate and identity through non-narrative storytelling. 

My goal is to transcend the particular and strive for mutuality. Much of my memory references involve coastal environments of my childhood and it has been a natural progression to consider the nature of the oceans and the environmental threats. Therefore, alongside the sensation of place and history, I also tell the story of the threat to the marine biosphere. 

My work exhibits a dynamic element that reflects the natural movement of sea, sand, clouds and plants. I have developed a range of glass-casting techniques that include the layering of precast elements and textural casting. This process of layering images mimics the way our memories are created of layers of experience and retold traditions.  I have experimented extensively to discover techniques for blending colour and using the range of coloured glasses and glass powders to evoke temperature, humidity and climate within an image.

I am available for commissions for private clients, interior design, local authority and arts organisation projects.

Gathering ToheroaThis recalls a chill wintery beach on the west coast of New Zealand. The sea and the sky meld on the horizon, while the fizzing waves lap onto the beach. We are gathering toheroa ( a large shellfish). The cloud insert suggests Aotearoa or perhaps the tongue of the toheroa that we sought.
Gathering ToheroaThe soft sand textured reverse side of this piece suggests both the gentle patterns made on the sand by the retreating tide and the choppy waves out on the horizon.
photography by Sylvain Deleu Photographer
Remains of a Summer dayThis recalls memories of summer days at the beach. The sun has set and the sea becomes inky blue. The picnicers linger on the beach, basking in the warmth still held in the sand.
Remains of a Summer DayThe soft sand textured reverse side of this piece suggests both the gentle patterns made on the sand by the retreating tide and the footprints of a hundred picnic.
Photography by Sylvain Deleu Photographer
TaniwhaThis recalls a trout fishing river with deep pools and gravel banks. It is lined in deep dark vegetation on the banks. It speaks of damp lush hidden places and the sound of water rushing over rocks. In Maori tradition such places are the lair of the Taniwha; part guardian and part monster.
Photography by Syvain Deleu Photographer

These three pieces are envisaged as a suite of images showing places that I revisit in my memories of childhood. Each is an amalgam of clear recollection combined with overlain traditions that include cultural references and oral family stories. I see these as non narrative stories.

They are designed to give a feeling of the sensation of the place. Whilst from my memory, I do not seek particularity. I hope that each viewer may find a memory stirring through the recall of a sensation, the trace of a place, the feeling of an experience through the colour, light and texture of the glass.

Medium:

Kiln Cast Glass mounted on Porcelain with cast bronze supports

Size:

Discs are 26cm diameter, width is variable
Photography by Sylvain Deleu Photographer
Photography By Syvain Deleu Photographer
Photography by Sylvain Deleu Photographer
Photography by Sylvain Deleu Photographer
Photographey by Sylvain Deleu Photographer

This work once again explores experiences of the coastal environment. The realism is intentional. I want this piece to make the viewer wish they could dip their toes into the cool fresh water of a rockpool. As such it is part of the theme of memory, place and sensation explored in the rest of my work.

The work also explores the materiality of glass, the ability to use colour and create textural imagery to convey a story. The seaweeds are cast separately and then incorporated into the layered glass within the mould. The seaweed floats over the rocks in the tidal pool.

Medium:

Kiln Cast Glass

Size:

35cm diameter, 18cm height
Photography by : Sylvian Deleu Photographer
Detail of the glass textures within the Turbulent block.

Envisaged as a section through the sea, these two pieces explore the constant motion of sea and sand. This turbulence creates marine habitats even as it alters the places in our memories by eroding and accreting material at each tide.

Medium:

Kiln Cast Glass

Size:

2 pieces: height 28cm and 17cm

This installation explores the marine environment and the role of seaweed in maintaining and rebalancing nutrients, cleansing heavy metals and providing oxygen through photosynthesis. Seaweed is, in many ways the hero of the oceans. It is the cornerstone of the foodchain and shelter for countless marine creatures. But how is this resource affected by the dumping of plastics and waste into the ocean?

The installation comprises six blocks of glass floating above the surface of the plinth. Each Block contains an inclusion of precast glass elements which are then sandwiched between layers of hot poured furnace. In the subsequent process, the included casting moves, absorbing and bubbling within the clear blocks. The blocks are hand finished, some polished and some satin finished to maximise the optical qualities of glass to create fractional visions.

Medium:

Kiln Cast Glass

Size:

various around 25cm height

This is a pair of pickle jar grenades painted with the colours of the Ukrainian flag.

These celebrate the story of the Kyiv grandmother who threw a well aimed jar of pickles to take down a Russian drone circling her apartment building.

The war in Ukraine has many heroes who have been fighting against the unjustified aggression of the Russian State. This story highlights the quiet strength of resistance of the ordinary people.


Medium:

Blown Glass and Metal

Size:

12cm Height