Susan O’Byrne’s approach to ceramics is figurative and the animals she creates are as much about people as fauna. Through close observation, she is able to capture the subtle nuances of temperament, personality and mood – these ceramic creatures are alive with wit and tenderness.
The techniques O’Byrne now uses in her ceramic process combine the influence of a childhood obsession with making in papier-mâché and a continuing interest in domestic craft, line drawing and collage. Larger ceramic works begin with a high-temperature wire armature. This becomes a three-dimensional line drawing onto which sheets of thinly cast paper clay are applied. The surface of the work is then veneered with a collage of finely printed and patterned pieces of paper porcelain. O’Byrne exploits the shrinkage of the clay around the wire armature to articulate the angularity of the form. Most recent work has seen a development of the surface pattern to reference historic domestic needlepoint, such as the ‘black work’ in the V&A collection.