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Eilean Eland


I am a ceramic sculptor working on semi-abstract expressive approaches to the female form. My question is: ‘How can I, as a woman, represent the female form today?’ I want to make strong, determined, individual and sensuous figures which also emphasise the rhythm and movement that echoes those of other natural forms. 

Producing images of women as a woman means working from a lived internal perspective. Rather than observing the female form, I live in it. Although I enjoy life drawing which helps with understanding the form, if I have a query about how a form works, I feel it in my body. So the form relates to my own, and the meaning of the form becomes that of personal identity. In some ways, it is a type of self-care in asserting self-worth. But the work speaks to more than just a sense of self; I intend a statement about the power and energy of the female. 

Working from my studio in North Devon, I use familiar ceramic hand-building methods such as coiling and piecing which are extended by beating the form on the outside and pushing and shaping from the inside. A dynamic surface evolves which is sometimes scraped down, then colour is applied with underglaze, slips and oxides. The range of work includes torsos/figures up to 60 cms high, but also very small figures. I generally work in paperclay which is plastic and forgiving and enables rapid building, and is good for sculptural work. The very small figures are frequently made in porcelain paperclay which provides a white surface which takes bright colours well. I fire to stoneware temperature, which means the figures can be displayed outside.

I studied sculpture at Reading University, followed a career in teaching in schools and museums, then academic work in the Department of Museum Studies University of Leicester (Professor Hooper-Greenhill). I am now enjoying concentrating on developing my art practice and although it is not a straightforward process, I was awarded the Guest Judge prize at SWAC online exhibition 2020, and have been accepted as an Associate Member of the Devon Guild in October 2021.