Donna’s area of research explores the clay medium as a vehicle for expression that reflects gender identity – this is investigated through the PhD research title – The ‘Gendered’ Ceramic Object A Creative Exploration.
This group of ceramic objects looks at the idea of expressing gender using clay which is the focus of the research.
Functional, traditional thrown vessels ‘innocently’ reflect perceived and accepted gender preferences while actually ‘sending up’ or subverting gender stereotypes. Metaphorical objects such as the queen conch and iron represent the female body, while slip-cast clay ‘morphs’ comment on gender roles. Flower decals traditionally used on tea-sets, suggest femininity. Masculine interests are shown using decals of power tools, nautical themes and phallic transport like red rockets and sports cars. The ‘pussy magnet’ concept is reversed along with the power, as the giant vulvic conch shell exerts an irresistible attraction for the ‘masculine’ motor bikes, tractors, fire engines and diggers. Pink and blue slips and glazes re-enforce gender messages, mirroring the way these colours are increasingly used to target consumers thereby adding to gender differentiation.
Pressure to conform to gender stereotypes is re-enforced by culture, society, language, the family and increasingly by advertising. Toys, clothes, hairstyles, employment and domestic roles are all governed by complex and subtle gender imprinting which begins before birth. Because of clay’s unique plastic qualities together with its long and complex history and associations, it is an ideal material to explore gender issues. Part of the research has taken the form of public events called ‘The Gendered Clay Object Game’. Groups of participants of all ages and backgrounds were asked to make a small clay object expressing their own gender. Over 100 ‘gendered’ clay objects have made during the experiment and these will be exhibited in the near future.
Donna Grant February 2013