Final Assessment & PDP

Overview at the final year of BA in Ceramics through context, ideas, skills, and looking beyond the degree into the future.


5 key posts that evidence your Contextualization of Practice; the situation
of your ideas and theories within the wider sphere of ceramics; art and
design:
-Reflexion: Beetroot
5 key posts that evidence your Process of Development; the examination
and evolution of your ceramic practice:
3 key posts that evidence the development of your Professional Practice:
– Experience: Site-specific public art
– Documents: Curriculum Vitae
                         Live applications

Over this conclusive year, I had great opportunity to further expand and develop my visual language as a ceramic gardener/ sculptor, for which ideas began to develop in the explorative Second year.
Through thorough academic research in the form of dissertation I developed and contextualised my practice, positioning it firmly in the wider world. I acquired deep insights into art, predominantly sculpture, anthropology and archaeology, philosophy. Moreover, I could actually contribute with my synthesis of ideas and proposition of ‘ceramic horticulture’ to the wider field of art, ceramics, and philosophy. This is a proposition I’m seriously considering to develop further in a Masters degree level, either in MA Ceramics at Cardiff, MFA in Ceramics at Alfred university US,  Craft – Ceramic Arts at HDK, Sweden, MA Ceramics & Glass at RCA, London or other Masters programmes in Prague, Bratislava or Oslo.
Despite how much I enjoyed my dissertation theme and wanted to dive even deeper, I really struggled with my concentration and motivation, physically only being able to do any writing/reading/thinking for about 10 minutes, before I would get agitated and drifting off with my thoughts. The extremely emotionally hard Christmas just piled on top of deadline stresses. I’m extremely thankful for the weeklong extension so I could just about finish the writing, while finding new strategies to cope with my mental state, and maximise the 10min bursts of productivity I had.

With a relatively clear direction of my ideas, supported by my contextual research and being comfortable in what my interests in ceramics and philosophy are, I could move freely through sculpture and functional objects, more designed or site-specific, and in number of different materials. I feel this free movement wasn’t disruptive as it can be sometimes, but rather each step informed the other. Such as making tools, carved in almost organic looking polystyrene and then cast in bronze, gave me ability to explore the historical beginnings of horticulture and change interactions with the world.
This excited more ideas, such as the use of supporting structures mostly made from wood, like climbing frames for beans, I could elevate and position my sculptures precisely, similarly to traditional plinths but with more flexibility (no need for flat bottom). This was partially informed by the excellent lectures on Still Life, and Curation by John Clarkson. At times hard to get around, though the questions, propositions and connections presented were actually more useful than empirical facts and figures you’re normally thought in art history/any history classes.
I’m glad I could apply these ideas to more functional objects too, challenging the everyday aesthetics. This really helped me secure my place at INCubator Space for next year, where I’m planning to develop a whole range of products, while still developing my visual language and ideas. I feel it is really what you do after university that counts in a lifelong career as an artist, so I hope I’ll not loose the drive and playfulness to come up with new ideas and advance.

The third year, if not my whole degree, was mostly an exercise to find a friend, a friend within myself. With a tendency shared with my brother to hate and dishearten ourselves, the past few months has been an immense struggle to just accept that whatever I’m doing is good enough and worthy. I had to find a healthy balance, away from constant comparisons with the best and criticising of everything I do.

This degree has given me more than any other degree ever could. A genuine friend within me, and perhaps clay too, is more than a ‘successful’ career…

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Asparagus and Stoic cabbage

Synthesis of ideas behind my latest exhibition pieces: the humble cabbage lamp and freestanding bundle of broken asparaguses.
Still Life and Materiality lectures gave me insight into the significance of these objects in history of still life painting, which I further extended by finding the works of Constance Spry, Stanley Spences, Jean Helion or Tommaso Salini.


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Tommason Salini – ‘Young Peasant with Flask’

As prompted by Claire to start using porcelain, I had a hard time adapting to its idiosyncrasies, and I couldn’t handle it the same way as I do terracotta.

Therefore, trying to adapt to the material, I started to create a very thin, simple, cabbage shaped objects, with the edges of individual grafts left un-smoothed.
With the potentiality of fired porcelain to be translucent, I left an opening at the bottom, measured to fit (taking into account up to 20% shrinking) a (E27) lamp holder.

The combination of porcelain, cabbage and light became to seem rather common but extraordinary at the same time.

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JEAN HÉLION

The ordinariness of cabbage has been celebrated and valorised, predominantly in painting, such as by Tommason Salini in ‘Young Peasant with Flask’ – youthfulness and energy emerging from the cabbages; in abstraction by Jean Helion looking at its strange, head like shape neatly ordered on fields, or by narrative scenes painted by Stanley Spencer in ‘The Lovers (the Dustmen)’ enlightening the extraordinary in ordinary.

“Plainness and stoicism: these are familiar ideas in relation to cabbage.”

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Constance Spry

Inspired and enamoured by 17th century Dutch still life flower paintings, Constance Spry exploited the liveness and humble interests of vegetation, natural light and colours. Her flower designs were revolutionary, in the terms of contrasting the fashion of formal arrangements. Constance’s designs were overall simple, striving to find the best way to express the intrinsic beauty of flowers. However, Constance considered all organic materials to be eligible for use in her designs, which resulted in tomatoes, lichens, artichokes, rhubarb leaves, all manner of fruits and berries, as well as vegetables, weeds and wildflowers along with the commercial offerings to be used in her work.
Constance played her part in the democratisation of taste and style, appreciating natural qualities and improvisation.

“applying her improvisational creative genius to all aspects of home making, did more to bring good design and beauty into the lives of ordinary people than many a serious industrial designer, famous for one “iconic” and unaffordable chair.”

Asparagus has been also celebrated in still life painting for its many symbolic meanings. However, in some cases the main focal point has been its interesting aesthetics alone. Especially in Manet’s single white asparagus on white marble, almost merging together, painted so freely, and purely for the pleasure that “although still, it is, at the same time, lively”.

 

My asparagus sculpture is in a sense processed as all the asparagus in still life paintings. Cut and bound together by a human, but contrary to its laying position, the clay asparagus is standing upright, still with potentiality to grow and break free.

 


stoic cabbage – Morris T, 2018, New Wav Clay, Frame Publisher, Amsterdam, page 74
https://www.museothyssen.org/en/collection/artists/salini-tommaso/young-peasant-flask
https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/dec/01/alexandra-harris-cabbages-art-first-book-award
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/gardenprojects/8884531/Society-florist-Constance-Spry-remembered-in-Mayfair.html
https://www.spectator.co.uk/2004/10/flower-power-2/
http://shopmayeshboxlots.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/constance-spry-part-one_12.html?m=1

asparagus: https://venetianred.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/the-still-life-examined-asparagus-in-art/
http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/search/commentaire_id/asparagus-18696.html?no_cache=1&tx_commentaire_pi1%5Bsword%5D=manet&tx_commentaire_pi1%5BpidLi%5D=509%2C842%2C846%2C847%2C848%2C850&tx_commentaire_pi1%5Bfrom%5D=851&cHash=013bb84194

lamp holders dimensionshttp://www.urbancottageindustries.com/blog/lamp-holders-explained-lighting-101-unit-4/

 

 

 

Finishing tools and sticks

Final processes in my casting endeavour.


Casting the little twigs in porcelain has been a good choice, giving it very different feel compare to the original wood, or even just earthenware slip. They feel so strong, smooth, with natural shine to them. Firing them in reduction made them even more magical with beautiful eggshell grey/blue colour. Tied together in bundle they have qualities close to classical paintings of white asparagus, with just more untamed energy.

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The bronze tools came out of the sand mould perfectly, with only two shapes not being fully cast. However, they take a lot of processing to do. From cutting them off of the channels with grinder, then removing any imperfections with powerful dremels and roughly polishing them.

To make them look more prehistoric, as if dug from the ground after thousands of years, I could use some patinas to make them look darker, aged. However, I have not had that much time to spare before the final deadline, so I left the stuck burned sand in crevasses instead.

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Positioned in the large, plane glass window they seemed strangely familiar. A handheld garden trowel, not so pristine and utilitarian as in a Poundshop. Textured as if diseased or slightly decomposed, next to an axe head and behind your own reflection in the glass, similar to a museum experience.
The groupings reconcile into evolution.
Horticultural tools – harvested produce – cultivated vessels?

Beetroot and radish

Some thought on completion of beetroot and radish sculptures on climbing frames.


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The beetroot shape has been my first large scale sculpture attempted, and it has been quite challenging. It ended up rather collapsed or shrivelled rather then plump root, but I could relate to that after just finishing dissertation.
I’m glad it kinda resembles ugly, obscured beetroot (or brain?). Associated with Aphrodite’s magical beauty, as well as having connections to affairs of the hearth, as it appears like the organ, oozing dark red liquid too.
It deserves the highest position the wooden climbing frames gave it. Even so damaged, open and shrunken it still looks rather monumental.

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Despite radishes looking similar to beetroots they are not closely related. However, due to radish’s shape, roots and bright red colour they are also associated with hearths and romantic love. With their peppery, spicier flavour maybe they should be associated more with passion.
The terracotta radish seems more defiant, almost lifting itself from the climbers and keeping its content inside.

 

 

 

Professional Practice – Applications, CV and Artist Statement

Applying for INC Space and the Woo Foundation Painting and Sculpture Prize 2018.
Producing artist Curriculum Vitae and creating my artist statement for 2 distinctive purposes. Gathering best images and information.


Artist statement for Fine Art competition, using the WHY, HOW, WHAT tip:


I believe all materials should be considered alive and vital. Through attentive human intervention, material can be cultivated into forms that are not dominated by pure human will, but are collaboratively shaped by the world and its forces too. Clay borders the organic and the inorganic. It is one of the most physically sympathetic materials, making it an ideal substrate to mutually grow.

Through my work I adopt the role of a ‘ceramic gardener’ tending to clay as a living medium. Employing the metaphor of a gardener is important to me because it enables me to forefront the unpredictable and vital dimensions of clay. This method of making allows me to strike a balance between organic and artificial, the real and imagined, outdoor and domestic, human and more-than-human.

During the process of hand building I press clay into my palm, transferring lines and folds which imply veins that seek to nourish the sculpture. The sculptures are adorned with tin glaze and colourful marks that explore the essence of growth in botanical illustrations. I also utilise specifically made gardening tools to extend the narrative of cultivation; cast in bronze, they refer to the beginnings of human agriculture, as well as the first cultivation of minerals and metals.

The final works explore ideas about our interaction with the world and our role within nature.

8 images needed for the Fine Art competition: 

 

 

Unfortunately, I was only able to provide images of work in progress, or tests and sketchbook pages. The quality of the photographs is not best either due to my lack of skills in studio photography. However, at least it is something.

Art Curriculum Vitae: including my artist statement, with lists showing my education, exhibitions and other projects I was part of, as well as part-time and volunteering jobs.
Can be seen at: About page

Continue reading Professional Practice – Applications, CV and Artist Statement

Thoughts around exhibition

Lectures on ‘Curation’ by John Clarkson as well as recent “Corridor Crit” session provided me with enough food for thought about how I should present my work, and begin with a more concrete plan for the final assessment.


I’ve became quite fond of our curation sessions, probably for the plentiful examples in sculptures, or by building on questions from our Wunderkammer Field project last year.

Constantin Brancusi’s sculptural work from the first half of the 20th century plays with the presence of a plinth. Questioning where does a sculpture end and plinth begin, are plinths removing sculptures from the real life? Plinths or frames are perargons in an exhibition space, a by-product of a painting or sculpture, the thing beside a work, neither the artwork or the regular world.

I think that is why I was so fond of placing my work on block of polystyrene, to remove them from the table and the real world, detaching them from the natural just slightly.
It was visible in our group ‘corridor’ critique when the viewers were rather confused about where they could be, in what kind of setting. The tiny patch of artificial grass might point them to some outdoors, but the elevation of the plinths detached any link.
It was similar to the two slightly different ways of displaying Jacob Epstein’s Rock Drill, suddenly the man and machine doesn’t seem that threatening to our world – Earth and humanity.20180122_144516.jpg

These questions bought me back to my attempts to construct a pergola from polystyrene, and realised how similar plinths and pergolas are. Supporting the plants to the hight, being perargons, but slightly more: giving structure and form to the main attraction of foliage and flowering, like Brancusi’s plinths, they are somehow part of the exhibit.
Is the root system plinth and secondary part of a tree, or the ground and soil just surface? Plinths and context provide sustenance to objects, connected to the institution’s power, country’s history, or viewer’s perspective?

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I intend to raise some of my pieces by a simple wooden structure, resembling climbing frames for plants, and conventional plinths.

The rest of the work might need to be displayed just on the floor, or some kind of low plinths, almost like a vegetable patch raised by wooden walls.
I’m still not sure about using artificial turf. Or anything else.

 

 


Sources of the images: 
https://theartstack.com/artist/constantin-brancusi/eileen-lane-1923
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/brancusi-maiastra-t01751
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/brancusi-fish-t07107
https://www.moma.org/collection/works/81018
https://www.wikiart.org/en/constantin-brancusi/the-kiss-column-1935