Heeding advice from tutors who proposed to treat the year as a residency in response to the tumultuous times, “I took this residency approach quite literally and returned to Estonia for my final year after falling in love with the country on Erasmus” Lorna explained.
Lorna’s sculpture became about forming a relationship with the new environment she was immersed in and the landscape surrounding her, the North Estonian coast, through the material of clay.
“The work has been a slow, gradual accumulation of research, contextualising and feeding forward into actions, led by material. There wasn’t a desire to produce quantity but to realise a sensitive understanding of the place I am in.”
The decision to live away from home, family, friends and peers during a turbulent year was not an easy one to make, but the experience gained and work produced clearly show how helpful the environment was, “I am so grateful for this decision. The studio space and ceramic facility has been essential to my practice. And the environment of Estonia is what has created my work this year.”
Lorna explained how the origin of the clay influenced her practice and she became concerned with the significance of clay’s life cycle. Clay begins in the earth, through excavation we begin a conversation and re-envigor the material. Starting in the earth, it is eventually returned there, to decay. “Being part of geology, clay is a material that is able to witness many interactions. In turn, amassing a weighted significance to our history.”
“After working with wild clays from various places I feel a softness and appreciation towards the earth that is under the soles of my shoes.”
Part of this life cycle is returning the clay to the earth, a process which Lorna saw as part of her work.
“Gathering the material from the land and the people’s history it felt only right to return the works to where they had come from. And so, the sculptural pieces have been given back to their source, buried and submerged, left to be broken down, digested and re-absorbed. And the bowls and cups have been redistributed into people’s homes along the Northern coast of Estonia and further afield, to be used, sipped, and eaten from.”
Lorna describes how especially now in a collapsing climate we must look to and learn from our ancestors, and our responsibility as predecessors is to be a good ancestor in return. Through her practice this past year she endeavored to further our understanding of how we depend on the land which cradles us and holds the memories and history of our past.
“Clay has a sensitivity that responds to the slightest impression of a fingerprint, once fired this soft touch can be preserved for thousands of years.”
With teaching moving online, a sense of flexibility was needed and students had to adapt their practice. Part of the online curriculum was the introduction of blogs to record and hold students' work throughout the year. For many students, Lorna included, this became a central pillar for their practice and opened new avenues of work.
“The blog has led to more writing. This has allowed the narratives in my making to come out and be understood. Writing has become a key tool in illustrating the journey and various straying paths of my practice this year. And the ebbs and flows that naturally happen in a creative process. Especially in what has been a turbulent year. The blog has become the most effective way to illustrate the process and research of my practice, the context behind the forms.”