Coiled & Constructed
Vessels & Forms
"Steven Follen's early work included wooden boxes of compartmented trays each containing an individual found object such as a tiny seed, bone, shell or pebble. Looking at a collection of his recent coiled vessels one is reminded of this blurring of the distinction between object and artefact, function and abstraction. They have an air about them of being long lost functional items which were cast aside at the end of their perceived life only to be discovered centuries later, presented and venerated by a society very different from that which produced them, and for very different reasons.
It is due to the deep understanding Steven Follen has for his materials and their origins that he is able to create this effect of timelessness and imbue his work with such a sense of elemental history. Having worked with ceramics as well as metal...he can apply techniques typical of one medium to the other...
The pieces are constructed by wrapping and cladding wooden forms with a range of steel stock, including wire and closely fitting strips. Intricate and complex textures result directly from the process of fusing together the metal using welding and braising. Surface treatments, oxides, pigments and patinas accentuate these qualities.
Placed singly or grouped together, they have a presense evoking past and present. They are full of personal meaning for the maker and trigger questioning exploration for the observer - artefacts of the best kind."
'Minute by Minute' Catalogue Introduction.
The Pearoom, Lincolnshire.
‘Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
Not that only, but the co-existence,
Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now’.
T.S. Eliot . Four Quartets. Burnt Norton Pt V.
'Having specialized in ceramics and metal at college and played with applying processes across these two material areas I have a number of role models and favorite art works by people who make ‘pots’. From the stunning glazes and forms in the work of Tanya Gomez, the beautiful sequencing and subtle tones of Ken Eastmans work, the landscapes in Gordon Baldwins work, the sensuous forms in the work of Joanna Constantinidis, the quiet beauty of the surface patterns, glazes and forms of Lucy Rie and the ancient forms of Hans Coper.
My understanding and perception of Pots’ changed on hearing a recording of TS Elliot's reading of Burnt Norton Part V whilst in a lecture at college. The Indian mantra inspired poem is part of the epic 'Four Quartets' written in the early 1930’s.
The idea that a jar sitting on a table or dresser could be still and at the same time perpetually moving (in time) offered a creative epiphany and a change in perception. The vessel took on a whole new identity for me and within my work. Pots moved beyond the decorative, beyond being a platform for testing technique or exploring material, process and surface qualities. I was intrigued and inspired by the connection between the vessel and time, the sense of movement and transition, between timelessness and eternity, the moment and the temporary.
The vessel has long been connected with the body and associated with life and death. Goods have been placed in special bowls alongside the dead in ancient burials, bodies have been packed in woven baskets for burial or set off to sail in burning ships (vessels), the ashes of individuals have been stored in jars and buried in the earth.
I remember blackened Neolithic funerary pots, incised with simple geometric patterns held in the Museum in Peterborough where I grew up. The collections of glass and ceramic vessels at the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge where I spent lots of time drawing different forms during my Art Foundation and returning to during the second year of my degree, capturing their forms - each with their own spout, handle, lip, body and foot .
The perception of the vessel as a metaphor for the human form exists in the work of another of my creative heroes -Julain Stair, a skilled ceramicist producing work that is both domestic and functional as well as sculptural. He produces installations and works that resonate with their quiet, subtle, informed intelligence. For me they are about ideas, history, material, time and timelessness. He is passionate about the symbolism of the material and processes he uses; skilled in its control and able to challenging the limits of the clay as well as the boundaries of his subject area. When he talks of his awe inspiring human sized monumental funerary urns, he too makes the connection to the human form. Talking of the similarities in the anatomy of a pot and that of the human body. There is something down to earth and honest in these giant forms, they are human in their scale and made of the same earth that provides our nourishment , supports us to grow and to which we will return to, when we die."
The Coiling Process
You can see how the vessels and forms are coiled here: Coiling - Youtube
"I aim to produce evocative pieces, working mainly in steel. The surfaces result from exploring the making process, capturing the inherent qualities of the metal.
Inspired by shapes, colours, textures and patterns within landscape, places, spaces, maps, personal collections of natural objects and museum artefacts, my work explores the notion of the journey, time, growth and decay."
Coiled and Constructed Metal Forms
Lights, Planters & Bollards
The coiling process, surfaces and forms have been applied to different contexts in response to public and private commissions