Today something very good happened: the Electrician came and wired in 3-phase electricity to our new studio! Almost too good to be true.
The kiln is very kindly being lent to us by Stuart Carey (Thank you!), and it's previous owner was Nicola Tassie (Thank you, too!).
Now i just want to make and make and make and make...
There's been some good feedback from No One Owns The Land, our installation in Brighton, as well as from State of Flux, the exhibition i'm taking part in in Ullapool. Here's a couple of reviews where our/my work is mentioned: a-n, House Festival Review, A Big Deal for Visual Arts in Brighton
You might imagine an exhibition of purely ceramic work would
feature at least a dinner-service quota
of plates bowls and mugs. It is to the
credit of the curators of An Talla Solais' current exhibition 'State
of Flux' that the oft held conservative view of what we mean by 'ceramics' has been smartly
overturned. This is an exhibition
which boldly favours the
sculptural and conceptual over the functional.
The thing about producing artwork from clay is that it is
almost impossible to be pretentious. Somehow, no matter how contemporary or
challenging the concept, the fact that the artist is having to engage with the
very stuff of the earth beneath our feet (the same material which we use daily
to eat our food from and drink our tea out of )
results in artwork which has a familiarity we can trust and rely on. To
transform what is essentially mud into truly convincing and arresting art forms
takes experience , sensitivity and understanding for the material and however
interesting the concept the end result will fail to involve us if the
skill is lacking. Happily, many of the contemporary ceramicists whose work is
on display here have successfully brought craft and concept together .
Transformation, arguably the very soul of the ceramic
process, is something of a broader theme within this exhibition. Clay, that
most unremarkable of materials, is used to make the ordinary extraordinary.
What more everyday than a supermarket 'Value' chicken ? Cast in porcelain slip,
finished with a high-gloss transparent
glaze , then mounted on a wall beside 2 other identical chickens, Artur Van
Balen's surreal sculptures offer a
disturbing comment on factory farming
and the food industry. Kevin Morris (co-curator
of the exhibition) favours unglazed or dry-glazed surfaces and in a humorous twist his 'Dry Bathing'
ceramic bath sponges challenge our perceptions and help us appreciate familiar
objects with a fresh eye. I liked Morgane Deffense's 'Experiment' series. Again
, the artist challenges us to re-consider what we initially acknowledge as
mundane – in this case traditional
kitchen equipment , and through
manipulation of the casting process and subversion of multiple
forms her elegant and subtle pieces
invite us to consider ideas of loss and gain. At first glance Edina
Andrasi's finely worked bottles appear to be directly inspired
by Persian or Chinese lustre ware, however it is the unique ornamentation drawn directly from our digital world which
provides the surprise.
The ceramic process when fully exploited provides fascinating
opportunities for any artist interested in marrying surface and form. For me,
Nicola Henderson's geological themed series of bottle forms in stoneware clays
with fabulous lava glazes work superbly . Bubbling glazes of icy turquoise,
burnt umber -melting and pearlescent , cracked and crawling over perfectly balanced and delicate forms are perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing
of the exhibition . This is a ceramicist who
enjoys the alchemy of the process . Equally elemental are Fiona
Burne-Sutton's hand-built bowls in black
river clay with tactile surfaces of red
slip and impressed botanics while
spontaneity and playful manipulation
define Emma Pratt's interestingly conceived but somewhat underwhelming
colourful installation. Fine modelling skills are represented in Melanie Davies’ vessels and Tilly Gifford’s beautiful gannet pair. But for me , more intriguing and
thought -provoking is 'A Journey', the
skillfully constructed sculptural piece by Ester Svensson. This is an
immaculately modelled work, lovingly decorated , composed and conceived. I felt
myself getting lost in the multiple narratives offered up by the caravan of
transient, dislocated and trapped figures.
It is a vaguely melancholy yet beguiling piece – a reflection of our times.
As promised ,’ State of
Flux’ makes a convincing case for
the healthy state of creative ceramic
practice in Scotland today. Go and see
this exhibition and you will
never again define ceramics as
being rustic pots in various shades of brown. That image
has been well and truly transformed.
On this Sunday 11th May, Rose and i will be talking with Annie Cattrell about our installation No One Owns The Land.
Information about it can be found here.
It's at 4pm in the Old Market in Brighton, and tickets are £4 (£3).
An in-conversation between artist-makers, Ester Svensson and Rosanna Martin and Artist and Lecturer, Annie Cattrell
Svensson and Martin’s HOUSE 2014 commission, No One Owns The Land, depicts the obstacles that face migrants and refugees through an engaging and thought-provoking sculptural installation. Abstract representations of borders and bureaucracy are made by tangles of displaced material. Places of refuge are depicted through forests and isolation is inferred through huge expanses of sand.
This one-off talk sees lecturer Annie Cattrell, engaging with Svensson and Martin’s new commission to explore their ideas of ideas of asylum, displacement, refuge and belonging. It will delve into how the two artists have portrayed these ideas through the primary mediums of ceramic and glass materials.
... is open! Until 25th May of Thursdays - Sundays 12 - 6pm, in the Regency Town House Basement in Brighton.
Here are a few pictures, taken mostly by Sophie, the brilliant volunteer who helped us install.
The other exhibitions are also well worth a visit!
Leah Gordon, Caste /Cast in the Regency Town House
Phillip Hall-Patch, Salt Field in the Waste House
Tobias Revell, The Monopoly of Legitimate Use in the Lighthouse
Yinka Shonibare MBE, The British Library in the Old Reference Library
and Photoworks Project Asylum In The City, which is (quite fittingly, i thought) in the Basement with our installation.
They're all excellent and each one brings a different perspective on the theme of migration, immigration, territory and refuge.
If you're in Ullapool in North Scotland, you should see this show and go to some workshops!
There will be work shown by eleven different artists who are all graduates from Scotland's ceramics courses - which are, unfortunately, no longer running. I wish i could go see it myself!
The piece on the image below is the one i'll be showing, but there'll be a few extra characters in it.
Rose and i are working away at our installation for HOUSE 2014 at Brighton Festival, No One Owns The Land.
We've been collecting various things from the banks of the Thames, making -for example- mountains and oceans, black things and figures. Yesterday we went for another visit to the Regency Town House Basement (where we'll be showing) to do some measuring and meeting the organisers, and we think it's going to be good.