Tana West was born 1981 and grew up in Bristol. Now living and working in London, West is an artist working predominantly with ceramic processes, using the language of ceramic materials and object making to connect with social, political and historical contexts. She studied sculpture at Central St Martins, completing her MA at the Royal College of Art in Ceramics and Glass in 2014. Her work frequently involves place specific and collaborative approaches. Recent projects include ’Orchard Works’, a project aimed to invigorate a rethinking of the region’s apple culture, a sector deeply rooted in Somerset’s identity. She has waded into the mud with environmental historians examining our relationship to water, as part of a collaboration between ‘The Power and the Water’ and ‘Towards Hydrocitizenship’ projects. In 2017 West won the Award at the British Ceramics Biennial for her [UN]WOVEN project, made with the help of a distributed online community across borders sending clayey soil in a variety of ad hoc receptacles and she was selected for Jerwood makers Open in 2019, making ‘Through a Glass Darkly’ a black ceramic version of a funfair hall of mirrors.
“My practice and research methods are mobile, the process of making work begins with a journey, the path it takes is contingent on what is found and can be transported. Like a present-day hunter gather in search of materials, I have collected and used estuarine mud, excavated clay, brick and rock fragments to make glazes and clay bodies which are regionally specific. I am semi-scientific in approach, experimental and with a certain acceptance of uncertainty, this way of working allows for materials to express their vibrancy. I also appreciate ceramic objects’ abilities for deception, it can pretend to be other things but is ultimately always ceramic with all that entails. The materiality of ceramics has a wide vocabulary: ideas, making and objects weave together to navigate contemporary concerns.“