Jeni Johnson

My Weeping Woman, 2020


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Glazed earthenware
38 x 18 x 13 cm
15 x 7 1/8 x 5 1/8 in

‘When I was making this ceramic sculpture, I was thinking about actions of self-care such as learning to let things go. I began by forming the clay into a large wooden spoon shape that then took form as the head of a figure. I worked with scissors as eyes and a red stop sign turned electric plug for a mouth. When working with clay I draw on the therapeutic qualities of the material. I sense psychological states and emotions can be made real, can become something sculptural and tactile.

The title of this piece references Pablo Picasso’s painting Weeping Woman 1936-39, which is based on an image of a woman holding a dead child depicted in the mural Guernica, of 1937. I was reminded of this work of Picasso’s when I had finished working on My Weeping Woman and I realise during the process that there may have been some translation going on between the clay and my personal experience of miscarriage. I don’t remember consciously painting a tear with the glaze, but it was there after it came out of the kiln. Paradoxically, it’s this happy accident which gives this piece its sadness and I think the crying figure is all the better for it.’

Jeni Johnson

Jeni Johnson was born in Cuckfield, East Sussex in 1980 and is a visual artist and art educator. She holds a degree in Fine Art and an MA in Fine Art with Learning and Teaching in Higher Education from Kingston University.

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