It is almost embarrassing to still love motorcars today. They create four times their own weight in pollution per year. In an age of climate change they should be banned like cigarettes are from restaurants.
People still love them because they represent personal freedom. You can hop in your car and go anywhere. My first car was my home too. It was a VW bus with a bed, closets and a sink and fridge. I had some fun in that car as it bounced across South Africa and didn’t stop bouncing at traffic lights.
My real love of cars is in their design. They are sculptures in multiples, on four wheels. Shapes pressed in metal rolling down the autobahn. Fast or slow they are cool to look at. The designs I like the best are American from the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. I do like some European models though.
The sense of their style can also be found in the music of Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley. Humphrey Bogart and Rita Hayworth embody that aesthetic in the movies.
The challenge is to stretch the probability of clay as a flexible material. I start with wheel thrown cylinders that are altered and then hand-built parts are added. Making mechanical elements like turning wheels, swiveling steering columns and hinged doors in clay are a challenge I find irresistible.
I research images of cars that I have no physical access too. From these I work out all the planer relationships that exist on the body. Some of these are very subtle and require patient trial and error reworking to get them right. Matching the left and right sides of the vehicles also requires dexterity in both hands because some shapes can only be formed by the left or right hand. Choosing glazes is a considered task because on some vehicles I want showroom finishes and on others I want a more weather-beaten or rusted feel.
It is ironic that in car design studios the prototypes of new models are often worked out in clay and I use clay to memorialize past icons of the age of the automobile. Perhaps if some of my cars don’t break they will be around for future generations to consider the cars we drove in the 20th century. The clay cars might be around for many years to come but we know the metal ones will soon rust back into the earth.