Jacob Chan - In Perspective



The fourth instalment of our series of interviews goes to Jacob Chan.  Jacob is a rising star of modern ceramics and is selling his work all around the world. Ever busy with exhibitions and developing his craft, Jacob is a cerebral artist who really creates the most stunning and intricate work, whether it be from the initial design or the complex glazes he employs.

 

Let's hear his story...

 
1. What age did you begin drawing and painting and how were you influenced?
 
I’ve always had an interest in collecting small objects since a very small age and trying to create something with them. However, it wasn’t until I was 17 that I first experienced clay and my desire to sculpt.
 
2. Which artists were your biggest influences and why?
 
My biggest influence has been international ceramicist Emma Rodgers who was the artist that first introduced me to clay and then became my mentor until going to university. I owe my decision and career choice to Emma.

 
3. When did you decide that you were going to seriously pursue a career in art and what challenges did you face?

My decision to seriously pursue ceramics as a career was almost instantaneous. The moment I touched clay I knew that I wanted to do it day in day out. The opportunities and things I could create at the end of my fingertips felt endless. The challenges I faced where the acknowledgments that it was an unstable choice of job and if I could turn my passion into something that I could sell but with good craftsmanship.


 
4. What mediums do you work in and are there any new mediums you would be interested in working with in the future?
 
My decision to seriously pursue ceramics as a career was almost instantaneous. The moment I touched clay I knew that I wanted to do it day in day out. The opportunities and things I could create at the end of my fingertips felt endless. The challenges I faced where the acknowledgments that it was an unstable choice of job and if I could turn my passion into something that I could sell but with good craftsmanship.
 
5. Who have you met in your career that has changed things about you, your style of work or maybe your processes and self-development? 

 

Emma greatly influenced my work through the sculpting processes & side of things however it wasn’t until I got to university that my tutor Thomas Fisher showed me the soda firing process that really changed my style of how I glaze my work. I have met many wonderful people throughout my career already.

 
6. How do you choose what to create, and how long does it take you from conception to finish?
 
I choose what to create through my inspiration of my cultural heritage. I mainly focus on Chinese shapes and forms and then fluidly sculpt figures onto the side. A lot of the time I will get an idea in my head and will go straight from head to clay. For me its like sketching only with my hands. My intricate pieces can take anywhere from 2-5 days for the making side alone
 
7. Which work that you’ve created are you proudest of?
 

My proudest piece of work is the collaboration piece that I did with Emma Rodgers in 2021 which was the peacock and table that was on show in a yearlong exhibition and now sits in the Walker National Art Gallery.

 

I’m continuously developing so although I always feel a sense of pride and achievement when completing a piece, I always want to improve and learn more. Figure out what I can do next to make the next piece of work even more unusual and unique.



8. Which piece of art that you own is the most special to you?
 
My first piece of art that I obtained was a swap with a ceramicist that I have always admired since starting my ceramics career. Ian Rylatt produces incredibly made musical instrument tea sets and it was a cup made from an oboe section that was my first ever piece of artwork that I acquired. It is this reason that it is most special to me.
 
9. Which museum exhibitions have you been most impressed with and why?
 
The most impressive exhibition that I remember visiting as a child was a Japanese exhibition in the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight. The collection was a range of paintings, mono-prints, ceramics, and glass snuff bottles which had intricate detail and showed an impressive range of skill and craftsmanship.
 
10. What are your goals for this year? 
 
My goals this year are to continue and develop new bodies of work and also to build a new gas soda kiln in which I can fire my work and achieve new glaze effects. Also, my plan is to exhibit at some ceramic fairs and shows later on this year down in London.
 
11. If you could own any piece of artwork (money is not an issue), which would it be and why?
 
If I could own any piece of artwork, it would most definitely be an antique Ming ginger jar vase. The source of all my inspiration and rooted deep within my heritage.