Tony Marsh’s crystalline and terrestrial vessels don’t shy away from their material. Appearing of the earth, encrusted, amorphic––each is an alchemical concoction of glazes, slips, englobes, raw powdered materials, minerals and cement––their evocative forms command the viewer with their singularity. A monolith on the mesa.
“There are real and imagined allusions to the physical sciences, earth formation, geographic phenomenon, force, time and landscape in my work. Ceramics is a transformational art which is dynamic in every phase of the process and I fully embrace that phenomenon. I set up conditions wherein unexpected results occur that lead to discovery which stimulates curiosity and innovation.”
We aim to bring together two distinct mediums, focusing on materiality and the control of natural forms through traditional applied techniques.
Grouped along a large table display, the Crucibles themselves are distinct: tall, slight, stout, and playfully obstructing one another. In presenting the work in such a way, each appears to elevate and exalt their neighbor, even those relegated to the wall.
Frieze New York, Courtesy Koenig & Clinton, New York
At Santa Fe-based Peters Projects’ VISCERAL CLAYexhibition (March 29 – June 8, 2019), Marsh’s solitary Crucible brings to the forefront the artist’s process, and how the manifestation of that process, with its earthy, knobby limbs, elicits an intimate and visceral reaction to reach back. It’s no wonder the gallery had to add “look don’t touch” to the title of its exhibition.
Tony Marsh, Crucible Series, 2018, ceramic, 19 x 15 inches
Not only did each moon jar take on a more fantastical endeavor than its milky globular Korean cousin, but unlike the Crucibles, their cantilevered protrusions delicately presented a small, often colorful, gem-like offering. Again, Marsh’s works, powerful and alluring, dare us draw in closer.
Tony Marsh, Crucibles #46, 2018, ceramic, 20 x 24 inches
Left: American Moon Jar, 2018, terra cotta, porcelain, glass, stone, gold leaf, 22 x 24 inches; Right: American Moon Jar, 2018, terra cotta, porcelain, glass, stone, gold leaf, 15 x 20 inches. Images courtesy Peters Projects, Santa Fe
American Moon Jar, 2018, terra cotta, porcelain, glass, stone, gold leaf, 22 x 22 inches. Images courtesy Peters Projects, Santa Fe
Part alchemist, part scientist, part shaman—Marsh says he is always looking for magic in his work, and he hopes there is “at least something small of an eternal truth encoded in what I make.” Crucibles are fixtures of science, cauldrons of sorcery. Truth and magic, science and sorcery—with his Cauldrons and Crucibles, Marsh is asking questions, making connections, and solving problems that are as old as thought itself.
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Tony Marsh: Cauldrons & Crucibles: in search of the sublime
Tony Marsh: Cauldrons & Crucibles: in search of the sublime
Watch a discussion between Marsh and our own Garth Clark:
Marsh’s 2017 Crucible is available for bid in our Garth x 50: CFile Benefit Auction, which honors Garth Clark’s 50 years of ceramic scholarship.
Social media sites like Instagram are changing the way art is made and consumed as the art world appears to be shrinking, Penn Station’s arches immortalized in mosaic and more. This is your go-to round-up of newsy shards and happenings from the world of contemporary ceramic art and contemporary ceramics––this is NewsFile.
34th Street Penn Station Stop Mosaics Recall the Past
As New York prepares to demolish the current Penn Station, artist Diana Al-Hadid strives to remind passengers of “a bygone America that once engineered its infrastructure for ease, aesthetics, and scale” in her painterly mural and permanent installation The Arches of Old Penn Station at at the 34th Street Penn Station Subway stop, Hyperallergic writes.
But this work is not a painting at all, but rather a remarkable mosaic featuring long, thin “strokes” in a ghostly white and turquoise palette.
“The Arches of Old Penn Station” is an impressionist work of fluid line and turquoise tiling that recalls the latter-day bravura of the 1910 building, which was designed by the architecture firm McKim, Mead, and White.
Another corridor-length mosaic by the artist The Arc of Gradiva is based on the literary work of the German author Wilhelm Jensen. The works were commissioned by the MTA Arts+ Design.
Reviewed as a diptych, each mural clarifies the other’s intention. The arches of old Penn Station reference our will to recreate history; by contrast, Gradiva is an expression of our collective longing for the past, which remains as elusive and ill-defined as ever. What shape will the new Penn Station take when it comes, if it comes? And will we love it as much as the old station, which the majority of us have never personally experienced? The results are unclear, but Al-Hadid’s new mosaics keep the dream alive.
As NPR’s Sam Sander’s discusses with Morning Edition host David Greene, “the social media platform really seems to have changed how museums and guests are interacting and how they’re sharing art with the world.”
The number of Americans who visited art museums dropped from 40.8-percent to 32.5-percent over a two-decade span from 1993 – 2012, according to a 2015 report from the National Endowment for the Arts. Along with the rise of social media exposure, that’s pushing museums to rotate their exhibitions more often, brick and mortar galleries to shut their doors, while others try to execute more collaborative––and old-school––efforts like gallery walks, fairs and studio tours. Meanwhile, others are working to save the art world by subverting it.
ArtNet––”The End of Exhibitions? As Attendance Plummets, New York Dealers Are Scrambling to Secure the Future of the Art Gallery”
To honor Garth Clark’s 72nd Birthday we launch GARTH x 50: CFile Benefit Auction celebrating Garth’s 50 years of ceramic scholarship. Featuring 28 Lots of Artist and Collector-donated works all in support of CFile.Daily keeping it free to all! Auction is LIVE now, 10 days only, ends noon Saturday May 25!
Below you’ll find image previews of this exquisite collection of works available for bid. Happy Bidding!
Zemer Peled, Black Dreams, 2016 Black Porcelain, 10.5 x 10.5 x 5 inches
Tony Marsh, Crucible Series, 2017, Ceramic, 19 x 18 inches
From the American Moon Jars & Crucibles Exhibition at Peters Project, 2018
Roberto Lugo, Stunting: Pump (1), 2018, Porcelain, China Paint, Luster, 5 x 5 x 10 inches detail
Aneta Regal, Red Tree, 2016, Stoneware, 22 1/2 inches long
James Marshall, Orange #201, 2016, Whiteware, 29 x 27 x 4 inches
Richard T. Notkin, Profilo Continuo del Trumpolini, 2017, Study #5, Ceramics, Glaze
SEATTLE––Without defying Tennyson‘s proclamation that it’s “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”, Bob Dylan‘s raspy voice recounts a further truth: that lost love can become haunting, unwelcome memories shattering an otherwise serene existence. Thus begins the latter half of the musician’s Oh Mercy album with the song “Most of the Time”, a title which is shared by artist Alessandro Gallo‘s newest solo exhibition (April 23 – May 31, 2019). And this turn of phrase’s appropriation seems quite apt, as Gallo’s most recent sculptural array of bestial-headed humanoids all seem concerned with togetherness. Or, more precisely, the lack of it.
Gently Down the Stream, 2019, stoneware, mixed media, 25 x 17 x 12.5 inches
Brooks and Oliver, 2019, stoneware, mixed media, 12 x 7 x 11 inches
Crocodile Tears, 2019, stoneware, mixed media, 7.5 x 10 x 20 inches
Gallo’s fantastical hybrids are collectively called Strani Incontri, or “Strange Encounters” in his native Italian. Of note is that the strangeness isn’t applied to a singular “Being” but rather an “Encounter”, a meeting of two or more individuals. While this could simply denote the spliced-together nature of his subjects, it also calls attention to how each stoneware sculpture interacts with its surroundings. For instance, Gently Down the Stream is a dioramic depiction of a seemingly relaxed setting, a pair of bird-headed people sitting across from a note-taking frog-woman. But closer examination reveals the avian couple’s wedding bands, a proffered box of tissues residing on the table before them. Apparently a scene of counseling in progress, their close proximity to each other masks a potentially great emotional distance that is currently trying to be bridged.
You’ll Never Walk Alone, 2019, stoneware, mixed media, 22 x 10 x 10 inches
Even when Gallo’s works are solitary, their minutiae divulge a greater story. Affixed to a camouflaged hunter’s body, the sharp-eyed northern goshawk depicted in Breathe has its compound bow tautly drawn, an unseen victim evident to the mind’s eye of the viewer. And as is the nature of the predator-prey relationship, this scenario will end badly for one of them, either with feast or famine. Crocodile Tears, conversely, transforms the bathing beauty trope into a femme fatale, her alluring nakedness attracting potential mates before her poised-to-strike maw clasps onto them.
Breathe, 2019, stoneware, mixed media, 22 x 19 x 9 inches
Thematically similar to Crocodile Tears, though in a non-predatory fashion, the daredevil antics of One Trick Pony are meant to draw the attention of others while his precarious stance disallows them from getting truly close. But perhaps Gallo’s most appropriate metaphoric piece for separation is Animal Kingdom, a functional chessboard with bust-like reliefs of beasts for playing pieces. In the course of executing a game, many pawns would be sacrificed and other pieces lost, removed completely from play until a winner declared and the events start afresh. A more subtle approach to this modular nature is Brooks and Oliver, the rainbow finch-headed pair enjoying their happy hour drink. Given their non-fixed positions, this duo can be moved into close proximity with one another or kept at distant odds.
One Trick Pony, 2019, stoneware, mixed media, 30 x 21 x 12.5 inches
Fixed at opposite sides of their diorama, the wedding cake is twisted from a symbol of togetherness into a visual divide between the couple depicted. Each facing the other way, the rabbit-woman and rooster-man in Tangled Up in Blue are physically less than a foot apart but they feel insurmountably separated. But almost like a final, uplifting nod within Gallo’s Most of the Time exhibition, You’ll Never Walk Alone captures a perfect moment of playful togetherness, a father and son forever frozen in a loving piggyback ride. And if the narrative of this show is that of loss, then this is the denouement, the realization that even lost love can bear amazing fruit.
Tangled Up in Blue, 2019, stoneware, mixed media, 22 x 20 x 20 inches
Alessandro Gallo’s Most of the Time solo exhibition
at the Abmeyer
+ Wood had its opening reception on Thursday, April 25th
from 5-8pm, with all works in this exhibition remaining on display until May
31st, 2019 at the gallery’s physical location (1210 2nd Avenue,
Seattle, WA 98101).
Text from Gallery. Photos by Alessandro Gallo.
Animal Kingdom, 2019, stoneware, mixed media, 72 x 72 x 7 inches
Love or loathe this exhibition from the world of contemporary ceramic art and contemporary ceramics? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
NEW YORK––Internationally recognized Finnish artist Pekka Paikkari fractured works at Hostler Burrows (May 3 – June 14, 2019) comprise the artist’s first solo exhibition in the United States. Distinctive, singular, the works are the result of his thorough investigations into the technical properties of clay, which he then manipulates in interesting ways, writes the gallery.
He has, for instance, developed a unique technique for drying clay. Although the web-like, fractured surface of dried clay is the outcome of a natural process, the artist controls it in order to obtain the desired pattern. Only then are the clay elements fired in the kiln. The process could be described as a controlled accident. Paikkari places particular emphasis on leaving the marks of hands and tools on his clay, bringing the act of creation closer to the observer.
The following essay Ice Breaking/Jäät lähtevät is by Ezra Shales, PhD, Professor, History of Art Department, Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Chalk crawls on a blackboard; an ice cube crackles in whiskey; a log snaps in a fire. Some of these sounds are jarring and others prick our ears sharply even though they soothe. The invisible can make us blink and a quiet rumble pull our entire bodies like an oceanic undertow. We can hear Pekka Paikkari’s works of art as well as see them, and the scratched forms echo tactile memories of movement, landscape and mud, however hard and still they are. Composer Timo Laiho lyrically described that he experienced Paikkari’s 1992 work of stacked ceramic tiles, titled Jäät lähtevät, synaesthetically, perceiving the sculptural tension as an aural sensation, too, and his insight is worth noting before one begins to describe the fractures in Paikkari’s sculpture. For ‘cracks’ are not merely superficial occurrences but the records of Paikkari’s labor, the traces of pacing and full body contact, of alchemical knowledge, and of decades of accumulated knowledge as a fire tender. On a very direct level, any ten-year old child understands Paikkari’s sculpture when they anticipate the sound and reverberation of smashing a stone to test a sheet of ice, and watching the water gurgling through channels. Wonder grows in such furrows. Peer what lies beyond, the cracks whisper.
A virtuoso on the potter’s wheel, Paikkari’s fractures are not to be weighed lightly or
considered apart from skill or without human labor. He is an artist-in-residence at Arabia,
the storied century-old Helsinki ceramic factory that was the pride of Finland from its
realization of independence and an essential part of the country’s cultural recognition by
Europe and the United States in the 1950s. He began working in the model making
department in the 1980s, and still has the skill to beat on his wheel to outperform any
rapid-prototyping printer. To reclaim
fractures are only possible and achieved with manual (and foot) application, skilled
manipulation of the chemistry of both clay and the chemical composition of metals and
oxides such as aluminum and lithium, and control of fire and its effects at temperatures of
1400 Celsius in conditions with and without oxygen. His education was in Finland but
worldly, with exposure to Jun Kaneko and Peter Voulkos, among visiting Americans. And
he has steadily exhibited work since 1985, and internationally alongside Annabeth Rosen,
Torbjørn Kvasbø, and Anders Ruhwald.
Paikkari evokes both Promethean placemaking in archaic art and also the boldly Modernist
ruptured canvases of Lucio Fontana. He delves into entropy and how things fall apart. His
expansive fields of shards seem to rotate spatially and demarcate gestures of inscription.
The concentric marks are a sort of gestural hieroglyphic asserting nothing more than place
and human presence. And my respect only increases when I realize that he has willingly
given up the calm of classicism and the symmetry inherent in the wheel for his own peculiar
sense of monumentality that includes archeological stress and the forces of disintegration.
Left: Fragile Rosa, 2019, ceramic, 58 x 46 inches; Center: Ghost of Spring, 2019, ceramic, 67 x 47.2 inches; Right: Under the Snow, 2019, ceramic, 54 x 46.5 inches
If some artists emphasize clay’s plasticity and others summon its geological density, few have captured the process of desiccation as poignantly. His wall pieces bring us into direct contact with vast stubble fields of wintry ice cracking. He turns
parts of bicycle, toys and
tools into withered ritual objects. His fragments articulate our collective failure to build enduring tools, or the susceptibility of human artifice to drying out, our bodies ossifying into skeletal artifacts. These are not trompe l’oeil artifacts but memories and reveries forced into three dimensions, and things squeezed so as to confirm their existence. It is wondrous that they are clay but to only see material and not mindful reflection on mortality misses the point.
Three-meter high bottles are large enough to hold all our hopes and disappointed dreams of genies and yet portable enough to bring home as shrines to the memory of water and times when classicism seemed a romantic possibility. If in his magisterial Shape of Time George Kubler sorts art by seeing all paintings ‘planes,’ vases and baskets as ‘envelopes’ and such things as stone carvings as ‘solids,’ Paikkari’s shard somehow moves amongst all three of these. The fragment is only a small bit of flatness yet beckons our imagination to delineate larger outlines and forms. Surface impressions might suggest a rhythm or pattern of building, and it is true, many ancient fragments tease archeologists to believe that basketmaking was a source of decoration in early pottery and perhaps even a translation of meaningful legible ornament. Yet the clay shard is dense, impenetrable, no matter how many speculative pasts and imaginary futures we hope we might conjure from it. In the desert, the shard evokes an invisible city, in the contemporary street it can be as life- affirming and expressive of community-building as an acorn underfoot in the forest.
Paikkari’s flasks might be mountainous impersonations of ancient Babylon, but if they bring us to value the inscrutable pot shard as evidence of the fragility of our world and all of our assumptions about the existence of civilization, they will have had a very useful function.
Disappearing, 2019, ceramic, 56 x 49.2 inches
Paikkari writes in his artist reflections that the human presence and is the starting point of art.
Clay is a flexible material for expression and as such contains the history of time. As an artist I construct a neverending story. Despite the physical appearance of the art work, whether it is placed on the façade of a building or is an installation consisting of several pieces, the dialogue between the viewer and the work defines its final form.
About the artist: Paikkari’s work is in the collection of the British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Ceramics Museum of Barcelona and the Shigaraki Museum of Contemporary Ceramic Art in Japan, among others. In 1989 he was awarded the International Biennial of Ceramics in Faenza, Italy (Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Ravenna). Most recently Paikkari was invited to participate in the exhibition “Ceramics Now: The Faenza Prize is 80 Years Old”, a special 60th edition highlighting international masters and emerging artists working in ceramic at the Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche in Faenza.
BARCELONA––A group of two women, a young man and a dog invite two adrift migrants aboard their boat to join in the group’s revelry. The scene is just one of nine ceramic pastiches in the style of 18th century European porcelain that were on display at Galeria SENDA (February 1 – April 17, 2019). The porcelain figurative works make up Russian collective AES + F’s exhibition Mare Mediterraneum.
As the gallery writes, the Mediterranean sea is “the epoch of global change,” and at the center of mass migration, armed conflicts, but also brilliant displays of humanity and empathy.
Mare Mediterraneum #9, 2018, porcelain, paint, 50 x 68 x 33 cm
But what makes this body of work interesting is what the sea represents for Europe. Each work depicts presumably white European men and women extending open arms and celebratory libations toward migrants who have used the sea as a vehicle towards refuge. That’s all fine and well, but perhaps the viewer can see through the beautiful imagery for a tinge of something more insidious. Herein lies their’ dilemma.
This tragic situation has become a political conflict as well as the subject of negotiation and ideological speculation. In this form it has been transmitted by media as a meme in what is now described as ‘post-truth’. The ethical situation that has unfolded out of this is paradoxical to say the least. Making porcelain figurines on this subject could be thought an extreme manifestation of this paradox yet, through its distance, an artistic image may be more radical than reality itself because it can push conceptual limits. Porcelain has always been a symbol of contentment and bourgeois comfort. The recent waves of migrations have confronted Europe with a dilemma: whether to accept refugees – allowing them to enter at the cost of the material and psychological comfort of their hosts; or to reject them in an immoral, inhumane, and cynical act that would undermine the co-operative ethical basis of Europe itself.
AES + F
Mare Mediterraneum #2, 2018, porcelain, paint, 17 x 57 x 16.3 cm
The collective, comprised of
four Russian artists: Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovich, Evgeny Svyatsky and
Vladimir Fridkes take an innovative approach to their work, as The Verge writes.
The artists see their work as a reflection of modern life––full of instability, vanity, and cultural collisions––which they cast in landscapes that are both digital and baroque.
Mare Mediterraneum #7, 2018, porcelain, paint, 35.3 x 34.6 x 17.7 cm
Mare Mediterraneum #5, 2018, porcelain, hand painted, 49 x 25 x 23 cm
Mare Mediterraneum #6, 2018, porcelain, hand painted, 26.5 x 31.5 x 16.5 cm
The porcelain works were displayed alongside a multimedia installation, and as Artspace writes, the group’s videos aren’t made in the traditional sense, but instead, are made by layering thousands of photographs to produce an ultra high-definition moving image.
Rendering surrealist, dystopic futures, AES+F builds dramatic narratives that recall both the simulated violence of video games and the glamour of high fashion photography, while their subjects pierce one another with arrows, beat each other up with golf clubs, or become gutted by the members of the animal kingdom of an alternate universe.
Watch a video from the collective here.
Mare Mediterraneum #1, 2018, porcelain, paint, 35.3 x 39 x 23 cm
Mare Mediterraneum #4, 2018, porcelain, hand painted, 25.5 x 42 x 18.7 cm
An artist uses U.S. Currency in a reinterpretation of kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken pottery with precious metal. Another pursues his process through the banana peel…It’s Monday. This is Spotted. Let’s dive in.
Featured image: Andrey Zignnatto, Fissure #6, 2018, Ceramic, epoxy mass and dollar, 15 7/10 × 15 7/10 × 1 inches
AndreyZignnatto Mixes Mud + Money
Brazilian artist Andrey Zignnatto is known for his innovative use of brick, from his trippy façades to his ability to capture the volume of negative space. In Zignnatto’s latest Reforma – Fissuras range at Janaina Torres Galeria, the artist employs a new approach to the Japanese pottery repair tradition of kintsugi. Perhaps serving as commentary on the power of U.S. money abroad, or America’s single-use, throwaway lifestyle, Zignnatto “repairs” the fissures in his square brick slabs with $1 USD.
The key to finding balance in this coexistence lies in mindfulness. Being fully aware of every step in the creation process, Zignnatto takes into account the brick and ceramics factories, how the manual and industrial labor affects the workers, what bricks can be used for and how our constructions fabricate the reality. The brick a symbol of possibility and the artist insists that it should not be reduced to just one property.
Japanese artist and sculptor Koji Kasatani––inspired by the objects of everyday life––has, well, elevated the banana peel to new heights, shapes and configurations throughout his ongoing work. Check them out in the gallery below.
Following the tradition of creatives whose practice relies on incredible craftsmanship he pushes ceramics to its limits, focusing on the most minute details to create true-to-life depictions of everyday objects.
Tiny House Has Actual Succulents In Its Printed Tiles
Innovative 3D printing studio Emerging Objects built the Cabinet of Curiosities with 4,500 tiles born of a 3D printer. And while the frame of the house itself isn’t 3D printed, the tiles were printed using the company’s Seed Stitch technology, a knitted ceramic wall system. The living front wall is made of “Planter Tiles” which are made from different shades of Portland cement and then arranged in patterns that enable them to hold plants.
“All the components are sustainable and made from natural or upcycled waste streams,” Emerging Objects founder Ronald Rael told 3D Printing Industry, “ceramic, sawdust, recycled Chardonnay grape skins and corn-based bio-plastics.” The interior walls are covered in Chroma Curl Wall, which uses the aforementioned corn-based bio-plastic to create a relief textures, and color changing LED lights.
The new Elancourt Music School conveys serenity with pale hand molded bricks
France—The Paris office of Opus 5 Architects has designed the new Elancourt Music Schoolin the former Ecumenical Center of the Sept Mares neighborhood, one of the focal points in the new town of Saint-Quentin en Yvelines. The building was originally a house of worship — a simple and inward-looking construction due to its program suggest peace and quiet. The original structure was built by Phillip between 1974 and 1977 with the desire that it embody simplicity and modularity. The hand-molded bricks are laid with a mortar-less technique, and the pale color enlivens a continuous skin.
Folklore Museum sources recycled from demolition sites
The Folklore Museum in Mouscron was one of 21 buildings in Belgium nominated for this year’s EU Mies Award for the best new architecture of the last two years. Bricks were sourced from demolition sites of traditional buildings around Mouscron, many of which once housed the objects and makers related the crafts and traditions celebrated in the museum’s exhibitions.
Although these recycled bricks are also painted with white lime to blend in with the building from a distance, they are clearly distinguishable closer up due to the difference in texture creating a deliberately imperfect aesthetic. One third of the bricks of the facade come from nine existing buildings and are sorted by their origin. is built partially with their initial containers, an old farm, a worker row house, and a cinema.”
HKS builds self-sustaining maternity Care unit in Uganda
Kachumbala, Uganda –HKS Architects and Engineers for Overseas Development have built a maternity hospital in that is fully sustainable using local materials, skills and technology. The Unit, which opened six months ago, can accommodate up to six births a day. India Block writes:
“Kachumbala has a hot and particularly dry climate. In order to suit its environment, the new birth centre had to be entirely passive and self sufficient, able to generate its own power, collect its own water, and keep the rooms comfortably cool without air conditioning. Bricks were handmade on site, using a press block machine developed at a Ugandan university. Apprentices from Cyfle Building Skills helped train local laborers in the technology. This construction material is less environmentally destructive than traditional clay fired bricks, which require significant local deforestation to make.”
Visit Cyfle Building Skills here. Visit HKS here. View Video here. Read more here.
Tucked away in a remote location in the mountains, the Lushan primary school, designed by ZHA, will be an educational institute located 160 kilometers North-West of Nanchang, the capital of China’s Jiangxi province. Sitting atop an elevated escarpment above the 50-year flood level on a small peninsula, the school will be surrounded by mountains, rivers, and lakes, providing a serene environment conducive to outdoor educational and sports activities.
The classrooms will be carefully orientated to maximize natural light and frame views of the surrounding landscape. Overhanging roof sections will help protect from solar heat gain, and the exteriors will be partly clad in ceramic tiles, which is a nod to the region’s long history of producing high-quality ceramics.
‘Resist’ ‘read more books’ ‘understanding’ ‘cycle everywhere’ ‘teach someone something.’ How can we break the boundaries that are dividing us? Library by artist Sarah Christie at Southwark Cathedral strives to do just that. Comprised of a collection of shards etched with words which challenge power structures, systems of oppression, and divisions––each shard is an attempt to give voice.
Beginning at the pivotal moment of the UK’s June 2016 ‘Brexit’ referendum, and ongoing through the country’s time of uncertainty and trepidation, the project reflects changing sentiments from the public, the cathedral writes.
In Ancient Greece, people voted by writing on ‘ostraca’ or pot shards––hence the word ‘ostracize.’ Similaryly, the public has been invited to select a hand-made clay ostracon and offer their own words. Through this public interaction, Library has grown to the nearly 2000 contributions.
Many languages are represented: some are hopeful, affirming and reflective, others are questioning, fearful, doubtful, and many are conciliatory. Together they form a permanent record of an unsettling and unresolved period of time, while offering the possibility of conciliation and perspective.
The following is a reflection on the project by the artist.
Library (2016-2019, glazed ceramic) has been a long project, and is the work of many hands and minds. I began it in the week of the EU referendum in June 2016, inviting the public to offer their words to break the social and physical boundaries that seemed to be reappearing and being reinforced by a divisive politics. A fair number seek to ostracise some of the architects of that politics. Many more, though, offer reflections, perspective, and a broader and more universal view on life, love, and what needs to be done in a time of uncertainty and trepidation.
Now in March 2019, as exit from the EU approaches like the dead end of a pot-holed road, the entire work of 2000 public contributions of words and drawings is on show in Southwark Cathedral, and it’s very exciting to be able to show the complete work in a place that welcomes all. This ancient and beautiful space invites reflection, stillness, and might perhaps help to encourage a longer view, a slower appraisal of where we are, resisting the impulse towards instant reaction.
‘Ostracon’ simply means potsherds. The ancient Greeks used them for voting: ‘ostracising’ unpopular figures from Athens. Many ancient cultures used them to convey messages or instructions, similar to letters, or text messages, and their longevity teaches us histories of those who came before. I made the the ostracon by hand, casting around 200 bowls, breaking them into sherds before firing them, and then glazing each one to render everyone’s words permanent, but Library is very much a collective work and it is the contributions of the public – diverse in subject matter, languages, perspectives – that make the work live.
About the artist: Sarah Christie is an artist exploring ideas around touch, physical presence and forms of contact though an interdisciplinary practice that crosses boundaries with art, craft and science. Her work centers around clay and drawing, exploring movement, gesture and mark-making. She is a visiting artist at Imperial College Medical School, teaching observation skills and sculpture. Frequently engaging with material and elemental agents, her work often invites participation or collaboration.
Images copyright Steve Mepsted
Love or loathe this project from the world of contemporary ceramic art and contemporary ceramics? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
WASSENAAR, Netherlands––Museum Voorlinden unveiled its custom edition of porcelain tableware at its Bakery Case Pop Up celebrating American painter Wayne Thiebaud (1920). Inspired by the artist’s color palette and exploration of light in his subjects, museum guests can enjoy “Thiebaud-cakes” in real life.
Famous for his mouthwatering depictions of cakes, ice creams and hot dogs, Thiebaud has placed the American everyday life at the core of his artistic practice. The career of the influential master spans an impressive seventy years and counting. Now aged 97, he has still not put down the brush.
The collection coincided with the museum’s first ever European retrospective of around 60 of the artist’s works from spanning from 1961 to 2018.