for these ceramic figures came from an appreciation of the history
of art and costume, TV costume dramas, classic books by Jane Austen,
Dickens and the Bronte's, artists Gustave Klimpt, Alphonse Mucha
and Degas and the Art Nouveau movement. The Pied Piper of Hamelin
and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie were also influential, but most
important of all are a love of life drawing and observations of
children playing, especially with their mothers in playgroups.
As a child playing in my father's studio whilst he painted, I came
to adore the smell of oil paint and turps. I attended my father's
Saturday art class with my brothers whilst still very young and
accompanied him on field trips with his students. I aspired to become
an artist from the age of five. Following the closure of the provincial
art school where my father taught, the family moved to the North
East of England.
art foundation course at Newcastle College of Art. was followed
by a second year art foundation course at Sunderland College of
Art, later to become Sunderland Polytechnic. I then did a degree
course studying fine art and received an Upper Second Honours Degree.
Finally I attended Newcastle University and took a Post Graduate
Certificate of Education.
The early part of my career was spent teaching, where I honed my
techniques, which later helped me develop my business designing
and making ceramic figures. How I started making the figures was
as inspiration for the children I was teaching, and the very first
figure was made in the style of paper cone angels, one Christmas.
With the head of department, Barrie Rawlinson whom I subsequently
married, we soon established a reputation holding several successful
exhibitions of our work. In particular, interest in the elegant
stoneware ladies that I made was high and demand for the tall "faceless"
figures soon outstripped supply.
I left teaching, my then husband and I ran a retail gallery and
ceramics workshop for many years, in an old village school. Latterly,
my life has changed direction again - on re-marriage, my husband
Peter, and myself have relocated to Alnwick, where I have a small
workshop. Over the last couple of years I have moved into designing
and making animals, assisted by Peter, which have overtaken my established range of figures. Most recently I have expanded the animals range enormously, with the introduction of alpacas, hares, horses, specialized cattle, and dogs of both generic and specific breeds, most notably beardies, daxies, afghans and white haired terriers.
The latest development in my work is to apply the glazes by hand painting, instead of dipping. This technique takes much longer and requires greater skill and patience but the rewards are of greater variety, depth and intensity of colours on each piece.
You can find out more about Veronica at www.veronicaballan-ceramics.co.uk .