Lisa Stevens is a ceramic artist located just outside of Bristol, UK. Her gorgeous creations feature bold and bright replications of corals, sea urchins and other natural forms in designs from necklaces to wall sculptures. Before her coral treasures, Lisa had a successful career as a senior sculptor with Aardman Animations, the studio behind favourites such as ‘Wallace and Gromit’ and ‘Chicken Run’. Even with her impressive past career, it’s hard to believe that each of her pieces is sculpted by hand and not plucked from a distant azure and exotic ocean.
Each piece is crafted using a selection of tools to create an organic look, with many of the pieces featuring shapes and patterns reminiscent of brain corals, barnacles and sea urchins. Lisa has stated that she also enjoys creating pierced patterns in her pieces as well as working with very fine, almost translucent porcelain so that when held up to the light, they appear to glow. Her designs are saturated with deep teals, vibrant oranges and rich purples and all have a beautiful and delicate texturing which looks like it could only have been made by Mother Nature herself.
Yet, dotted amongst her photographs of rich colours stand stark, pure white unglazed sculptures. Just as stunningly beautiful as their coloured counterparts, these blanched creations aim to highlight the issues of coral bleaching and reef destruction due to human activities. For the past two years, Lisa has produced artwork for the Cheltenham Paint Festival, an event dedicated to celebrating national and international street art, to highlight ongoing natural problems. Her ‘Change’ sculpture in 2018 was used to mimic the effect of coral bleaching, the intense colours fading into a ghostly white, and the importance of changing our ways. This year’s piece again featured the pure white of unglazed porcelain dotted with lilac and sunshine yellow flowers and tiny bees. The sculpture, in the shape of a skull, is no doubt used to highlight our global crisis of bee populations and the importance these little beings have on our survival and the natural world. Not only do these alluring sculptures emphasise issues facing our planet but provide multi-sensory pieces of art for all to enjoy.
As climate change takes centre stage in global discussions and the media, I wonder what new art Lisa will produce and what other artists will spring up with her.
Words: Jesse Mackinnon