We are so excited to have welcomed Joseph Dupré to our roster of artists with the release of his debut series ‘Harlequins & Heifers’. This collection of 16 original decorative pieces draws inspiration from various sources and styles throughout history while always remaining humorous and playful. Here we chat to him about his background, influences, and his favourite ceramic techniques and materials.
How did you become an artist, what's your training and background?
I am trained as a doctor and took time out of my medical studies to study at the Royal Drawing School. My mother is a professional ceramicist, and I have been making ceramics since I was a child.
Joseph working on The Sprinters Urn
Harlequin & Heifers pieces on Joseph's mantel piece
What are your influences - generally and specifically for this collection? Are there certain artists, subjects, or movements that inspire your work in particular?
My influences are very wide-ranging, but in general, I am drawn to figurative work, as opposed to abstract. I am very drawn to work that has a strong sense of line and mark-making, such as the drawings of Van Gogh. I am also inevitably drawn to certain periods of Picasso’s work, and especially his lesser-known ceramics. In terms of sculpture, my main influences would be Picasso, Gaudier-Brzeska, Rodin, Degas, and Calder. A theme that I look for in sculpture is humour and playfulness, something that Picasso masters wonderfully.
What does your process look like? Why do you choose to work with this type of ceramics?
I use a specially imported German clay, called Sculpting Marl, which is particularly strong and resistant to cracking and warping. This is very important in my work, where there are multiple different thicknesses of clay, and significant structural stresses and strains placed on the pieces, which would not survive if made in a different clay.
I also use porcelain, which has a beautiful milky white finish. I exclusively handbuild and model my work, and generally decorate all my work unfired, then glaze it and fire it only once. I find that this technique gives me the vibrant finish to the piece that I want.
Peppered Sardine Platter - work in progress
What emotions or response do you hope to create for the viewer with your work?
I want to delight and surprise both myself and others, the act of making is one of emergence and discovery. I also want the work to stand alone and be interpreted by every viewer in their own individual way - I don’t want to give too much of a back story of each piece, as I believe that they can speak for themselves.
Spotted Stafordshires - work in progress
Fish on gingham - work in progress
Can you tell us more about your debut collection?
My work combines a depth of human feeling, with deft humour. This collection is mainly figurative sculpture - people, animals, fish, and birds - with an offbeat edge to them.
Robert Bakewell's Prize Heifer, Scarlet Ibis, and Seated Harlequin by Joseph Dupré