Mary Kaun English

This artist accepts commissions

Mediums Used

Mary has always been intrigued with shorelines. The Californian coastline, which she called home for many years, and now the Cornish coast: she finds inspiration in the meeting point between land and sea, which is not fixed and is constantly in a state of ephemeral flux being greatly influenced by natural events shaped by tides, waves, and erosion. The sound of the waves as they hit the rocks, the healing qualities of the ocean air, and the inhabitants that live in the tidal space in harmony in a perpetuating cycle of surf.

Mary’s garden studio, nestled next to the North Cliffs in West Cornwall, is more than just a workspace. It’s a sanctuary that infuses her ceramic artwork with the unique qualities of this coastal region. The rugged beauty of the cliffs, the ever-changing colours of the sea, and the gentle whispers of the wind all find their way into her creations, making each piece a testament to the enchantment of this place…

Working primarily with locally sourced clay from St Agnus, Mary uses a potter’s wheel and hand-building sculptural techniques to create her unique, one-off pieces.
Mary enjoys working with glazing and pit-firing processes, achieving two distinct types of ceramic works.
Pit-firing is a modern adaptation of age-old methods and actively collaborates with earth, wind, and fire elements. Unglazed ceramic pieces are placed on a bed of wood shavings in a pit in the earth or sand. Organic materials such as coffee grounds, banana peels, and seaweed are placed around the work, as well as copper wire and steel wool; these materials will contribute colour to the ceramics as they burn. The ceramics are then covered with firewood and lit. Once the wood is vigorously burning, the pit is covered with metal sheeting to retain the heat. Though the fast and hot fire tests the ceramics to the limit of their tolerance and contributes to the breakage rate, the successful pieces make the loss rate worthwhile. The warm reds, pinks, blues, and yellows that result from the collaboration with the fire and air make each unique piece embody the colours of the earth.

Sculptures by Mary Kaun English