Perse student’s stunning ceramic set for prestigious exhibition

Nicholas Malasiotis (Lower Sixth) will have the honour of seeing his artwork in pride of place at the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) this summer.

The talented ceramicist has had his piece War Child chosen from more than 21,000 submissions to be included in the RA’s illustrious Young Artists’ Summer Show, which runs from 19 July to 14 August. The exhibition will also be available to view online between the above dates.

Nicholas was delighted to discover his creation, which he made as part of his GCSE 3D art coursework last year, had been accepted into the prestigious exhibition.

He said: “It was part of a series of ceramic artworks that were inspired by photographs of children whose lives has been torn apart by war.

“This is unfortunately a perpetually current issue. I was particularly interested in expressing feelings of emptiness and loss of hope.

“The specific War Child piece takes the form of a boy that stares directly at the viewer with a blank, resigned expression, questioning the reasoning of his incomprehensible situation.”

In order to develop the form of his piece, Nicholas drew inspiration from the burnished and reduction-smoked ceramic artworks of renowned Kenyan-British ceramist Magdalene Odundo, as well as from the semi-abstract visual language of world-famous sculptor Henry Moore.

Nicholas added that his introduction to raku – a firing process where ceramics are removed from the kiln while red hot and cooled rapidly – in Year 10 had been a big influence on his work.

He said: “It’s an unpredictable and often unforgiving process, but I set up a firing bin in my garden – using wood shavings and certain chemicals for colouring – to experiment and develop my understanding of the technique.”

With the War Child piece, Nicholas sculpted the hollow clay form of the boy and used the ancient technique of terra sigillata – covering the surface with a suspension of highly-refined clay particles and burnishing it – to achieve a smooth sheen.

After a first bisque firing, he coloured the piece with a metallic salts wash. The piece was then saggar-fired, using wood shavings, in the electric kiln at school before a final wax polish was added.

Despite not continuing with art at A level, Nicholas has retained his love for ceramics and is working on a couple of projects in his spare time.

He also thanked art teacher Mandy Wilkins, who introduced him to working with clay after he joined Ceramics Club in Year 8.

He said: “I didn’t know what to expect, but my passion for building ceramic artworks rapidly grew from then on.

“I like the tactile aspect of working clay and the fact that it results into a physical, three-dimensional object. Mrs Wilkins has been especially helpful with the knowledge and support she has given me.”

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