Katie Louise Surridge, 1985.
The ages of civilisation are named after materials because they transformed society. To me, there is something therapeutic and grounding in revisiting ancient techniques. If we distance ourselves from creating and live as consumerists, we have a danger of becoming illiterate in a making sense. Perhaps this material based ignorance is as dangerous to society as illiteracy, and we are becoming uncivilised in a new way.
Learning skills such as blacksmithing and casting metal creates links with the past and helps me understand the origins of my own practice. Now confident in forging metal, I am experimenting with infusing these ancient techniques with a contemporary outlook. I am interested in mixing other materials with my metalwork, intertwining skills and exploring new combinations. A sense of humour and a genuine interest in connecting with people through my art plays an equally important role.
My current work researches the utilisation of other art forms of the past such as smelting or flint knapping. I am interested in how various technical and cultural processes affect the aesthetics of objects which I make. Im increasingly keen to be able to control the whole process of my making , from sourcing raw materials to manipulating them in to final art works.
This has recently led me to learn how to make my own steel directly from iron ore at the furnace festival in Ireland. I have a research grant from the Winston Churchill Trust for funding to take this project further, and am currently in Japan studying the Tatara process. By researching the space where these ancient techniques meet modern day society, I will investigate how a change of context can effect the dialogue around research based practice.
Blending tradition, knowledge and personal experience is key. Within this frame work I have been exploring how I site myself as a maker. I see a fine line between craftsmanship and performance, since I find both enthralling to watch, and therefore am considering how performance making can be used as a formula to create. Photography and documentation are key to supporting this.
Challenging myself either physically or mentally is becoming an important element to my work. I am interested in the idea of the artist as ethnographer and using fully immersive research as a means to make. I find completely removing myself from the comfort zone I know and understand is inspiring.