Equestrian turned into ceramist
Emma Tate is an inspiring equine ceramic artist. We’ve talked with her about her love for horses, her time in her studio and her unique style.
Where does your passion for horses come from?
I grew up around horses from day one. My mom was an eventer turned dressage rider and trainer, my dad a steeplechase jockey turned blacksmith. My parents bought a very special horse as a three year old when I was young and I was so lucky to have grown up with him. When I was twelve I began riding and showing him. I was the youngest rider to make the Junior Championship team at age 14 and from there we moved on to compete on the Young Rider Region 8 Dressage Team. It was a very humbling upbringing as we were not the wealthiest family but our passion for the sport, the appreciation of working towards our passion as a family and the bond I had with my horse were what made us successful.
How did you decide to integrate your passion for horses with your talent in ceramics?
I think every artist’s work is inspired by what they are passionate about or by what has made an impact on them in life. For me, this is horses. More specifically, I moved to the Netherlands in 2013 to further my dressage training. After a year, I moved to Amsterdam and took a 2 year hiatus from riding professionally. It was the longest I had gone without riding so I relied on my sculpting to keep my familiarity with the horses shape and presence.
Is this a hobby for you or is it your career?
I started 2 years ago with the intention that this would be my career and only recently has it started becoming true 🙂
How would you describe your work?
I have always been drawn to abstract artwork but also appreciate realism and the preciseness it takes. My ideas are always changing but at the moment I would describe it as abstract with a clean finish. I have been told I can be a perfectionist at times. With this line of work I can focus on the smoothness and accuracy of the layers or surface, whilst still having fun with the structure’s shape and assembly.
What is your typical workday like? Can you tell us?
Is there a typical workday?:) My studio duties are always changing depending on how far along each piece is. I try to begin a new sculpture while another one is drying. Sometimes the kiln needs to be loaded or unloaded and other days I will need to glaze. If I glaze a sculpture, I always spray glaze for a more even, thin finish. I can spend 2 – 10 hours in the studio at a time.
What is your favorite/most special sculpture that you have done and why?
At this point my favorite sculpture is ‘Sancerre’. A Dressage horse that is performing an extended trot. Although I sketch out most of the forms before I begin sculpting, they always take on a life of their own throughout the sculpting process. This sculpture in particular continued to pleasantly surprise me and in the end came out of the kiln with a powerful presence.
You have a very unique style. Although they are one piece, your works seems like they are separate. How do you manage this?
I first sculpt my pieces whole. This is the least time consuming out of the sculpting process. Once the sculpture has become slightly firm, I slice it into various pieces. Sometimes I draw on the piece to measure out where I’d like each layer to be or sometimes I just go for what feels right! I then hollow out each piece and attach it back together. This part is always the most interesting because more often than not it turns out differently than imagined. After I attach all the pieces together. I smooth and make the final details within the clay before letting it dry and putting it into the kiln.
What is your dream project?
Something big! A large commission of some sort. I have a small ‘race horse’ wall piece. I would love to see it 10 times the size, galloping across someones living room 😉
Who or what do you get inspired from mostly? Who is your favorite ceramics artist?
Larger than life-size art always inspires me. It demands attention right away no matter what material or form. Andy Scott, Nic Fiddian-Green and Deborah Butterfield are a few favorites if we are staying specific to the equine art platform:)
What can you tell about Paard Verzameld to art lovers?
I was lucky enough to discover Paard Verzameld at a great time in my career. I was ready to begin releasing my art into the world but was not sure where to begin. This particular platform has an array of different but very talented equine artists and horse enthusiasts that are trying to do the very same thing. Share their representation of the equine world. Joyce Ter Horst has created a welcoming platform to do just that. She and the other fellow artists of Paard Verzameld have helped give me that extra push and support that I needed to turn my career ideas into actions. It is enjoyable for both the equine artists and in return the equine art lovers.
Where do you see yourself and your art 10 years from now?
It’s hard to say. Still developing within the sculpture world and sharing my pieces with as many people as possible. I’d love to have a horse to compete with again by then too:)
We thank Emma Tate for this great and inspiring interview. You can follow her on Instagram