We get quite a few emails here at the GFG from makers of ashes urns. Most of these urns are ghastly and get no more than a thanks but no thanks. We are unfailingly courteous.
This morning was an exception. We received some stunning images from a Plymouth-based ceramist, Alan Braidford — in answer, it almost seemed, to Richard Rawlinson’s post earlier on today. Wonderful work, we’re sure you’ll agree. There are virtually no makers of funeral urns whose work has evolved beyond the container-of-some-sort stage, but Alan’s urns are anthropoid — they are sculpted figures of humans. What a difference that makes. Depending on size, perfect for a garden memorial or for a family altar to the ancestors. Okay, so we don’t do altars to ancestors. Ours is a developed culture which has lost touch with the value of ritual observances based in an idea of duty. For the sake of our own emotional health, we need to reinvent these observances, and Alan’s work points the way. Do you think they speak too much of grief?
Here is Alan talking about what he does:
My ceramic work is figurative and mostly stoneware. The work is on a domestic scale ranging between 30 to 150 cm in height.
Although my natural impulse is to make sculpture, I am very interested in making functional pieces, and with this in mind I have been developing a series of simplified sitting figures to be used as funeral urns. As this work will be fired to 1250c it will be frost proof, and thus can be placed outside in a garden setting. Ashes or memorabilia can be placed inside the urn through an opening, before the ceramic is fixed to a stone base.
The look of my work is influenced by an interest in ancient history – Celtic, Etruscan, Cycladic and Middle Eastern.
Coiling is the construction process most employed, although I am currently developing a press moulded process in order to reproduce one of the urn designs. Slips,engobes and lava glazes are used to add surface texture.
Alan is also interested in working collaboratively with bereaved people in the matter of design. If you want to contact Alan, write to him at alanbraidford(at)btinternet(dot)com. His website is here.