Artist Interview – Sophie Howard
We caught up with our current exhibiting artist Sophie Howard to delve a little deeper into her practice and why she makes sculpture…
Q.1 Have you always made sculpture?
I studied sculpture at Winchester School of Art, but I made useless objects before that. ‘Things’ talk to us – it’s all very basic. Making a new thing that has meaning and value without any purpose is an endless challenge.
Q.2 What attracts you to stoneware and ceramic as mediums?
Clay can be made to do almost anything. I am learning all the time. Without proper ceramics training I came to making fired sculpture because I can control the process from start to finish. Having a kiln allows me to make finished pieces in a proper material that is relatively durable. It is also entirely natural and can be recycled. Through glazing and painting an infinite number of finishes can be achieved. I am a beginner when it comes to the language of the earthy stuff. I see what others have done and learn from it.
Q.3 Why are human (both male and female) forms such a focus in your practice?
I think they are my favourite objects. They are expressive of so much and bind us to ourselves. It is recognition and love. The bodies without heads focus attention on the physical rather than the mental aspects of being us. They speak directly to our own bodies.
Q.4 Alongside making you have taught for many years – how does this influence your own work?
I teach Life Sculpture with Bristol Adult Learning and now with Bristol Drawing School too. I have also taught all sorts of art and design subjects in the past. The life sculpture teaching certainly informs my work. Seeing, considering and sharing thoughts about the work of others automatically enriches what I make and what I desire to make. It also makes me think much more clearly about what works and why in sculpture, because I am taking about it and enabling others to make decisions.
Q.5 Do you find Bristol a vibrant city for the arts?
Certainly. Its a great big playground. I love this place and have lived here since the mid-eighties. I have just moved into the City Centre to live, so I can be more immersed in it. My family has grown up here, and engaged in the cultural life of Bristol in every possible way. I may grow up myself eventually.
Q.6 Are there any stand out exhibitions in your career that you can tell us a little more about?
From the past, I worked with Oc-Eo gallery a few years back. We had a show in central London. The gallerist, Peter Quintana made me see my work in a new way. I had the chance to show part of a series called ‘The Queen Flies Into Exile’. Curiously, I did not know at the time that those cloaked figures fleeing to who knows where were a response to the loss of my mother to cancer.
Q.7 How do you see your practice developing in the future?
I have some experiments in progress for new pieces about city life. If I told you more I would have to kill you. I am very much looking forward to making new work this year for a joint show at Clifton Fine Art with Emma Caton. Emma and I might even make something collaboratively. Much of my work is solitary so it’s highly invigorating to jump into bed with another artist – metaphorically speaking.
**All of Sophie Howard’s works in our ‘Summer Sculpture Show’ are for sale – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any sales enquiries / to be sent a catalogue of available works.*