Surreal Ceramics I Q&A with Amy Douglas
The restorer turns broken vintage figurines into subversive works of art – and you probably won’t find them on great-granny’s mantelpiece
An expert restorer by trade, Amy Douglas started creating anarchic new objects from broken Staffordshire pottery purely for her own amusement – now her surreal creations are taking the ceramics world by storm. As her works go on show in our exhibition Glitter Bunnies, we corner her for a five minute chat…
“I work from my studio at home in Brighton. It’s a rather full space with a Welsh dresser full of broken Staffordshire earthenware and other objects for me to restore for clients .
As a restorer you have to replace or reglaze loss and damage with the correct thing. I had an anarchic twitch to do what one should not – for my own amusement at first. Playing with scale and the wrong restoration brings a different dimension to the piece. Seamlessly done it can trick the viewer into believing it was always there; it makes people look twice.
I describe my work as extraordinary objects made from the remains of discarded and broken figurines. I suppose you could say I collage them together.
Where they are broken dictates what I can do. This is where my skills as a restorer come into play, because often the connection isn’t initially clear between past and present.
I mostly source the figurines from car boots, eBay and gifts. Staffordshire pottery is a very familiar part of our nation’s mantelpiece and a lot of people identify with them through different generations.
I produce objects with new narratives, changing their original story, updating them for modern times.
Often I react to the things I’ve heard people say or do. The titles come from the social interactions I’ve overheard: the obscure and ridiculous, which contributes to the surreal quality of my work.
I’ve created some new gilded pieces that were sparked by reading about the attachments people form to inanimate objects – the stories behind them, the memories they evoke and almost fetishistic quality they have for people. They are very precious and can be a porthole to another time, place or person. By gilding my additions of broken pieces I feel it elevates their situation to something ‘other’, and special.
Interview: Alexa Baracaia