The inspiration for Ashraf Hanna’s work is deeply rooted in nature both in colour and form. In a recent conversation about his work, Storm Beach II, an installation of 34 pinched and hand-built cylinders, he said: I was struck by the power, energy and beauty of the storm beaches of Pembrokeshire in West Wales when we moved here from London 20 years ago. From a distance, the beach is a mass of grey but on closer inspection, a delicate, rich and varied palette of greys, pinks and blues is revealed. The beach landscape is forever changing, strong tides and powerful storms shape and reshape the intricately woven dense structure of thousands of pebbles almost on a daily basis. In this installation I try to capture elements of that, the choice of the circular or oval simple cylinders both responds to the pebbles and allows me to concentrate on the subtle colour palette. Ashraf’s ability to achieve the right density of colour in his forms is astounding. He does this not with glazes but through a process of building up layers of Terra Sigillata, firing in the kiln and reapplying and firing again until he has achieved the desired depth of colour. Terra Sigillata is an ultrarefined clay slip that can give a soft sheen when applied to the ceramic work. The ancient Greeks and Romans used this technique in lieu of glaze.
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