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Claire Ireland

making emptiness into substance

Claire Ireland’s working practice as a ceramic sculptor has been changing and evolving; she brings a committed and personal approach to everything she does.

Claire has recently been drawn to a more minimal and reductive strategy than in previous work, as she constantly strives to develop the clay surface, in combination with a diverse array of visual research. There is a constant challenge to maintain an equilibrium when constructing her pieces.

Claire’s elegant hand-built sculptural forms and collectable objects are inspired by her London studio’s location in the grounds of a historical steam museum. She works with ceramic components, making structures in a variety of ways, using different clays and incorporating experimental surfaces as she goes. Claire says:

“I see the process of assemblages, akin to collage and delight in that element of chance and how those unplanned mishaps during the making and experimenting, evolve into new ideas. I try to hold back and not crowd an idea, developing an erudite language that flows with visual tension, creating intricate relationships between the forms. Clay for me is the perfect medium of sculptural expression, with remarkable scope and opportunities to tell stories and blend traditional and modern experimental techniques. I’m interested in alteration and the sense of balance throughout the making process – in the final stages of combining components, this is crucial to a successful outcome, intrinsically the clincher.”

Claire’s work explores the disparity among materials and surface, between precise graphic notions and textured, weather-battered surfaces. The relationship between the fragility of a porcelain plant fragment, the strength of fractured solid clay, or the ethereal qualities of a smoky surface enveloping a form – these are all an integral part of the process.  Her individual hand built, press moulded and cast structures are fired at different temperatures, including saggar and smoke firing techniques. Claire also makes ceramic platforms, plinths and steps to display the components. She see these assemblages as akin to collage, and delights in that element of chance and those unplanned “creative mishaps” when experimenting, evolve into new ideas.

Certain ways of working have been inspired by her book on Surface Decoration for Ceramics, published by The Crowood Press in 2023. Claire spent two years developing and researching a variety of decorative techniques for this creative guide, including experimental printing techniques to transfer ideas onto the clay surface. She is a passionate printmaker and made over 500 test tiles and samples for the book, exploring the potential for each method and simultaneously enriching her own creative practice.

Claire reflects, “My approach resonates with the notion of ‘Ma’ which is a specific Japanese concept of negative space, which evokes a deeper sense of a ‘gap’ or ‘pause’ that gives new shape and meaning to the whole. It is not just about a minimal approach, almost making emptiness into a substance itself.”

Pieces for Sale:

Vestigia Alba, 2023, W 11cm x H 33 x D  24cm, ceramic assemblage


Album et Transmutai, 2023, W 29cm x H 25cm x D 12cm, ceramic assemblage


Memoriae, 2024, W 64cm x H 25cm x D 9cm, ceramic assemblage



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