Art has always been a powerful force for advocacy and activism. We spoke to ceramicist Jasmin Crockett of Peanut Ceramics about her menstruating goddesses, anti-capitalist radical feminism and the essential message her art seeks to portray (that we all need to hear). Read on…
What inspires you to focus on the female form, particularly vulvas and menstruation?
I think women are beautiful, our bodies are incredible and we need to be celebrated!
It's a big finger to societal conditioning which seeks to limit, control and shame women for everything that is incredible about them.
I was decorating a goddess pendant one day whilst listening to the audiobook, Wild Power, which is about understanding and working with the different stages of your menstrual cycle and I learnt that there is a word for the first bleed.
This was news to me! It’s called menarche.
Such a powerful word, the beginning of power rather than a disability that you must not really ever talk about or let interfere with your life or work.
It just highlighted even further how language, or lack there of, impacts our perceptions. In that moment I spontaneously gave that goddess blood. I enjoyed the conversations about her so much I decided to make more. I now donate 10% of the sales of the menstruating goddesses to The Homeless Period Southampton, who provide sanitary products for homeless women.
How do you feel about feminism in general? Do you see craft playing a role in it?
What I’ve realised is that the only way we will ever get gender equality or racial equality, rights for LGBTQ+ or environmental justice is with the death of capitalism. Capitalism’s roots are in oppression, exploitation and violence, it requires those things to function. You can’t have equality in such a system, it requires groups of people at the bottom but all groups intersect with each other. The fight isn’t over until all humans are equal.
I’m an anti-capitalist radical feminist I guess.
All the amazing empowerment work people are doing is incredible and essential to generate the critical mass we need for change to become possible.
I absolutely think anything creative can and does play a huge role in conveying concepts, connecting ideas and people, helps us express emotion and make sense of things.
Describe the process you go through to develop your collections.
What materials and techniques do you use to make them into finished pieces?
My process is essentially flow based, I just need to get my hands on the clay and things happen.
Time and everything else falls away and I’m at my most creative and my happiest.
I use white and vulcan black stoneware clay bodies.
For years I worked in cardiac surgery and I have adopted the surgical scalpel as a tool for my clay work and it’s my favourite. I love carving the clay.
I have a range of stoneware glazes which I enjoy combining in different ways and mixing glaze with hand painted line detail/pattern. The intricate blue line detail is my signature which I used to hand paint with a brush until I discovered underglaze ‘pens’!
It’s a process with lots of stages which provides variety.
For those readers who are not familiar with the ceramic process, the dried clay piece gets fired initially to remove the water and permanently change the structure, then it is decorated and fired again which fuses the glaze to the clay body.
I then have to assemble the jewellery...
I try not to use precious metals as the environmental and human impacts of mining them is problematic.
Who are your role models (in life and art)?
In life I’d say anyone who is out there living their truth and living consciously. I’m lucky enough to have amazing friends that fit into this group.
In art the same I think, I absolutely love Frida Kahlo, she was an awesome human.
There are so many people out there who are doing amazing work, one of which is visual artist Fandangoe Kid. Fandangoe Kid is a visual story teller with a focus on the circle of life and death and viewing life as episodic and cyclical. She is currently designing me a kimono with a personalised narrative about love and rebellion.
What in your life led to your art becoming a kind of campaign?
I’m passionate about justice, equality and celebrating women. I use creativity as a means to explore ideas and make connections in my own mind and with other people. It helps me give voice to my feelings and channel them in a positive way.
What drives you?
Connection. Whatever I’m doing, if I feel connected to the people around me, then I’m happy.
Do you/does your art have a particular message that you are keen to convey?
I don’t think so but if I could somehow attach one to it it would be, love yourself.
Head over to Jasmin's Instagram to follow her journey in clay and join the conversation about challenging taboos and striving for equality for all.