• sculptors tools
  • Halima in her workshop
  • Halima chiselling a sculpture
  • Halima cassell in the studio
  • chain sawing a large wood sculpture
  • Halima mapping out the design
  • Firing work in the kiln
  • Halima carving a design

Process and Methodology

When working in clay, I use heavily grogged clay that allows me to work on a large scale and utilise relatively thick surfaces to carve to my desired depth. I also concentrate on simple forms as the basis of my work in order to amplify the effect of the complex surface pattern combined with sharply contrasting contours.

Whilst creating my work, I go through different processes, each requiring a different mindset. I start by hand-building, and/or using a former to create the basis of a shape for my structure. This follows on to the next phase, which involves exploring numerous possible design outcomes.

At this juncture, I shut out all external stimuli; this enables my mind to run free. I do not allow myself to think about the inherent technical problems that may occur at the construction stage, as this may affect my freedom to think during this part of the creative process. Then I work out the mathematics of the pattern and the surface area of the form so that they work accurately and harmoniously together.

Finally, when the clay is at the right consistency, (in between leather-hard and stone-dry), I intuitively work out which way to carve each section of the design. Subsequently, this informs the remaining pattern of the overall form without having to work it out on paper.

Each piece varies between 100 and 280 hours or more, depending on the size and complexity of the pattern. The work is slowly dried over several weeks/months, to ensure a steady drying process. The pieces are fired to variable temperatures depending on the clay body's capability.

Over the last several years I have worked with a diversity of materials exploring their potential. When working with other materials such as stone, wood and plaster, the processes and methodology in creating these pieces are very similar to when I am working with clay, the only difference being is the tools used and the material behaviour and properties.

 


  • Halima’s work demonstrates incredible dedication and energy; one thing is clear, she will be among the future pathfinders and leaders.
    – Alan Grieve, Chairman, The Jerwood Foundation

  • Cassell’s Work Is Subliminal in its originality, having no parallel in the sculptural or crafts genres, whose borders it crosses.
    – Jean Vacher, Collections Manger, Crafts Study Centre, Farnham

  • Her main preoccupation and sculptural impulse is to penetrate beneath the skin of the form to reveal the structure within – the crystalline seed of the stone, or the skeleton-like armature she perceives within the clay. She does not carve exteriors but reveals interiors – the folded abstract inner landscapes of her singular and highly imaginative vision.
    – Andrew Lambirth, Art Critic - Spectator Magazine

  • Working mostly with ‘naked clay’, that is without the use of glaze or slip, Cassell first carefully carves and then smoothes and burnishes to remove any blemishes, so virtually making the surface ‘ disappear’, leaving the form clean and prominent
    – Emmanuel Cooper

  • The most inspiring ceramic work I have seen in thirty years! Beautiful, mesmerising, powerful and thoughtful. Genius! Love, love, love this work.
    – Judith Ramsgate, 53 years old

  • She was sketching constantly and continually sought to transpose her drawings into sculptural forms. The surface as well as the shapes emerged together in sculpture which often combined enormous complexity with simplicity and unity.
    – Helaine Blumenfeld OBE FRBS Dlitt

  • She set very high standards for herself and was tireless in her efforts to reach them. After just three months she was able to carry out complex, compelling, delicate and dynamic work.
    – Helaine Blumenfeld OBE FRBS Dlitt

  • Her profound understanding of the geometric rules governing any given pattern, allow her to bend, or even break them.
    – Peter Randell-Page, Sculptor

  • I find her work uplifting, I would never consider buying it solely as an investment
    – Eric Knowles (Ceramics Expert)

  • While working, Cassell becomes deeply involved in each piece to the point where she is unaware of her surroundings even watching her work on a piece for a few minutes, it is obvious that the process commands all her attention
    – Emmanuel Cooper