Featured Maker – Tiffany Scull

Published 03/06/24

Featured Artist Member, June 2024

Our featured Artist Member for June 2024 is ceramicist Tiffany Scull.

Tiffany specialises in the beautiful technique of Sgraffito, where layers of slip and colour are applied to a clay base – such as a vase or plate – before being scratched and carved away to reveal the layers beneath. Tiffany is passionate about this time consuming process and has developed a distinctive and unique style, with each piece being made and meticulously decorated by hand, and which has allowed her to pair up her two loves of drawing and clay work.

Tiffany’s pieces tell a story and try to capture a fleeting moment in time. Birds and fish are particular favourites, and being such nervous creatures she hopes to give the impression they may take flight from a vessel or dish at any moment.

Above: A collection of ceramic vessels by Tiffany Scull, featuring fish, insects and flowering plants.

What inspires your work?

I have always been fascinated by the natural world and first started drawing and then painting at around 5 years old and this drive to turn images I see of beautiful creatures into works of art continues to this day. I spend a lot of time drawing and also researching and looking for exciting new designs. Sometimes this follows naturally from an earlier piece I created allowing me to evolve and develop the design further. It can be a wildlife programme, an advert on TV or even be a piece of fabric with amazing colour combinations and pattern which sparks a new idea. If I have been asked to create a commission of a new animal I have never used before this will often develop into a collection. I follow a lot of wildlife photographers on Instagram and find it very exciting to see their new work which in turn can spark my inspiration.

Images (Below): A collection of three ceramic vessels, featuring insects and flowering plants (Left) & test pieces in Tiffany’s studio (Right).

Describe your workspace.

My studio is only a few minutes’ walk from my home which is fantastic and I like to start early as I am very much a morning person. I work from a unit on Portland which is part of a very unique purpose-built set of studios designed in the 80’s to help artists to start their careers. The unit is quite small so I have to try to be as tidy as possible and I chose to put in white work tops and paint the walls white which works well creating a comfortable and gentle work space. The floors are cement which is perfect for my kilns and cleaning but not so good in the winter for my feet!

I have a wall dedicated to showcasing my work and I often sit while having a coffee break and ponder new ideas whilst looking at my past creations.

What is your favourite piece or design you have made?

My favourite piece so far is my most recent Blue Rumped Parrot & Yellow Magnolia Vessel which I created last year. The colours really worked well and the birds are such a bright blue and green when I saw them in one of my bird books, I just had to try to capture all their movement and beautiful feathers. I have also been developing a new way of applying my slips using brushes instead of sponges and this piece was the first full design I have created in this way.

I love using parrots as they are very social birds and interact well with each other and their environment which can add an extra dimension to my decoration. I try to imagine them squabbling and chattering in a tree, how would they behave, how would they sit and what works well balancing the design with the empty space? As with all my pieces I spent time looking into their native habitat and for this I use both online resources and my collection of plant and tree books.

Image (Below): Blue Rumped Parrot & Yellow Magnolia Vessel.

Who has influenced & inspired you?

I would have to say that my late father inspired me as a maker. He was a full-time artist and created some of the most beautiful stone carvings I have ever seen. As a child he encouraged me to practice my drawing and I have fond memories of him showing me how to wash out and look after my paint brushes. I would visit his studio in London and be in awe of his workspace filled with all his creations. This made a long and lasting impression on me and I began to dream of one day owning my own space and working as an artist.

As far as any influence I guess that would come more from the painting side of art rather than ceramics, so artists such as Gustav Klimt, George Stubbs and the Dutch painter Rachel Ruysch. After my grandma died, I inherited her cherished replica of The Horse Fair by Rosa Bonheur which used to hang on her wall and I fell in love with as a child. I still adore this painting and it moves me every time I look at it invoking happy memories of the past.

A collection of Tiffany’s ceramic vessels and wall pieces inspired by birds are available to purchase in the gallery and via our online shop.

Images (Below): Double-eyed Fig Parrot Wall Hanging (Left) & Olive-backed Sunbird & Coral Tree Vessel (Right), both available to purchase via the online shop.