CC: I'm a lot more surprised and more impressed on first seeing it than I was [by] the image in Oliver Watson's book. It seemed less bull-like in the photograph and reminded me an awful lot of those 1950s decorative ornamentations, which I used to really dislike, until I gained a degree in Ceramics, I think. I started to look back on it. But it's all thrown this, I think, isn't it? I think it is all thrown, which makes it very successful in the fact that it's full of that volume that you get when you're throwing. And I'm not quite sure which way he would have done it, but it has a wonderful stance, it works really well from this view, [and] from the back view as well. It's also really obvious, the Picasso influence, [though it's a] very different kind of bull to [a] Picasso bull. And [it has a] really curious kind of decoration. I don't know whether it is plotting out the cuts of the bull or of meat, or is it purely decorative to just accentuate those more muscular areas of the figure?
[video clip starts] But I've always had a bit of a fear of animal ceramics, figurative ceramics, because sometimes they fail so much in doing anything for the actual animal itself, in representing what a living animal is. They become very sentimentalised. But this one doesn't seem to be. It's not too twee, considering the time it was made, as well. It still stands [as] very contemporary. There's some beautiful decoration there on the top, and that area there on the forehead, and that really describes that part of a bull's head as well, that flat forehead, that real area where you'd want to touch it. [video clip ends] And these very ridiculous horns, they're kind of absurd, really. I don't think horns actually do that do they? But he's very confident, male and rather well-endowed from this view. There's also this view, this angle from here, that sweeping line. It's very well considered. I'm just wondering how it was actually thrown, whether it was thrown in sections here and thrown; obviously that [section] is thrown that way. The legs are separate. But this seems to be one whole piece. I can't seem to find a dividing line. Do you know about this at all? What the decoration is?
MP: It's not clear what the decoration is at all.
CC: I think that's what's really curious about it is that abstract tatooing of the figure or of the bull. I'm just trying to think of Picasso's bulls as well and how we treat them three-dimensionally, I think, with clay as well, not flat pieces of clay, but also how he used it in terms of them being painted, and painted on his ceramic plates, and Picasso ceramic plates, and bull fights. There are some beautiful, beautiful illustrations. You get very different bulls again. This, I haven't seen this. This area here, I didn't see that it's actually pierced right into the inside, which is interesting in that it allows you a way into that volume. It is very dark, it's quite menacing in there, actually. For something that seems not very forceful, when you experience it in this kind of space it's actually quite a dominating figure.
It's got great stance, there's volume and there's weight that sits there. It's very well observed I think. And the only piece of modelling is these drawn lines, and where he's made the eyes into the body. It's the only area where he's actually had to ??? the clay with a tool to describe the kind of eye. Everything else is either thrown and assembled and then decorated. It's got a sense of humour as well. It's not taking itself far too seriously. Yes, I like it.
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