When Phoebe Cummings declared herself bankrupt in 2006 she never envisaged how profoundly it would impact her ongoing ceramic sculpture practice. She stopped using a kiln and began making her installations temporary, recycling the unfired clay after exhibitions, an approach that is as much a part of her work now as it was back then.
Thematically, her work explores nature and time, frequently looking at how nature may have been represented and stylised within historic ceramic objects and design. Consequently the compositions are picturesque, recreations of plants and wildlife that represent a perfect version of nature.
Another key focus for Cummings is the experience of objects, an idea that emerges most strongly in the way her sculptures change over the period of their exhibit, drying, shrinking and cracking before being dismantled. This sense of transience is similarly present in the process of creation, Cummings nearly always preferring to build her pieces in their exhibition spaces: from a 9m suspended clay structure at the University of Hawaii Art Gallery (2013) to her wall sculpture Antediluvian Swag housed outdoors at the New Arts Centre’s Summer House (Wiltshire, 2016).