Two internationally important shows provided me with context for the start.
One ceramic orientated, the other one focused on modern international art helped me position myself between these two and bring plenty of inspirations.
Returning to Subject Module, I started to explore colour in glazes on my own, to help me develop specific colour pallet for my Subject work.
Orange being the most prevalent colour in Penguin Books designs, it provides a great depth of symbolism and context associated with the cultural impact Penguin Books had in UK and other English speaking countries. It brought inexpensive fiction and non-fiction to the mass market, educating, and having impact on public debate in Britain, through its books on British culture, politics, the arts, and science.
Therefore, I’m using orange as colour of possibility for social and personal growth.
I found number of good colour pallets around orange, but one with split complementary colours: blue and purple stood out visually, and belonging in the Penguin colour scheme with dark blue representing Biography and Purple representing Essays.
I started with a search for multiple recipes of the chosen colours in EW and SW, which would give me glaze bases and colours which I could then combine and refine.
I tested 4 SW recipes with one very successful Barium based glaze producing interesting dark blues with orangey halo on White Saint Tomas, and another glossy Soto Amber with interesting double colouration, but in green and browns.
Adapting the 2 base glazes, I stained them with commercial stains, which however burned out or in case of Lilac and Rosso Red Stains just reduced in vibrancy.
Therefore, I started experimenting with combinations of oxides to mixed into my leftover stained batches, referencing oxide combination sheet in our glaze room.
In the Barium based glaze I used:
Vanadium + Cobalt Carbonate + Titanium Dioxide produced matter, more even, lighter blue.
Manganese Carbonate produced very dark uneven purple.
Vanadium + Rutile didn’t show up and the glaze remained white.
In Soto Amber I used:
YIO + Rutile + Vanadium producing just light brown with streaks of blue.
Cobalt Carbonate + Manganese Carbonate + Rutile producing dark background with interesting blue streaks.
And RIO, browning the Rosso Red stain.
I had more luck in the EW glazes due to the simplicity of using commercial stains.
I was able to use colorant combinations from the other glazes to adapt the non-toxic base glaze, and experiment with other combinations, to produce a range of oranges, yellows and dark blue purples.
If I had more time I would really go for a bit more scientific/controlled way of testing the additions to perfect the colours, rather than my very quick, mostly intuitive decision making.
The fact that I opted for spraying my final work, made the glaze much brighter, but at least I’m not having brush streaks or loosing any details in texture.
The latest test piece glazed with my Penguin Purple, Penguin Yellow, Penguin White and Penguin Orange applied by spraying were acceptable. The one directional application even suggested sun exposure, as if sun rays sprayed the piece, giving direction to the growth.
NICHOLAS JOICEY; A Paperback Guide to Progress: Penguin Books 1935–c.1951. 20 Century Br Hist 1993; 4 (1): 25-56. doi: 10.1093/tcbh/4.1.25 [https://academic.oup.com/tcbh/article-abstract/4/1/25/1676590/A-Paperback-Guide-to-ProgressPenguin-Books-1935-c?redirectedFrom=PDF]
The last location we ventured upon independently, during our Wunderkammer Field, was a small local, South Welsh gallery in Swansea.
It was interesting to see carefully curated, poetic and colourful contemporary exhibition by Anne Gibbs, in a small, intimate, local venue dedicated to art and contemporary craft; compare to big, nationally (or even internationally) renown museums, galleries and collections we seen on our travels.
It refocused our attention on our (now very informed) practice, and how it could fit within the big world, or even the small local one.
Wondering off track to explore more temporary and modern exhibitions in Oxford.
Finding very different and critical point of view at collections of British museums.
The first place we found was an exciting arts venue focused on bringing high quality arts to the community with exhibition space, theatre, dance studio and workshops for artists.
We went straight for their exhibition space which was as large as a bedroom but housed exhibition named Haptic/Tactic.
In association with Craft Council, the exhibition displayed work of 5 makers and their mentors, trying to challenge the upcoming makers and create a creative network that can stimulate new ideas and ways of working, very fitting for a venue which focuses on community and collaboration.
I was very excited to finally see Annie Turner’s work in person as her aesthetics closely relate to my last year’s exploration into containment and architectural structures.
Handling fundamentally tactile work of Bonnie Kemske was a must do experience, especially powerful after a day full of being forbid to touch any artefacts.
The informality of the space and ethos of the established felt very different to the rigid formality of typical museum and its goal for education, despite both housing art or craft based artefacts.
We finished the day at typical whit cube gallery spaces of Modern Art Oxford. Established in 1966, building an international reputation for leading contemporary art and innovative programmes.
“We aim to make contemporary art accessible and engaging to the widest audience through presentation and participation.”
The current exhibition “Invisible Strategies” presents work by British artist Lubaina Himid, born in Zanzibar and one of the forefront members of the British Black Arts Movement.
Her paintings, newspaper collages, sculptures and ceramic interventions were a powerful reflection on the objects we previously seen on that day, in a museum setting, sourced from array of cultures and civilisations across the globe and time.
She is questioning historical ‘truths’ that museums presents, and revealing hidden contexts of museums acquisitions.
In Mr Salt’s Collection, Himid is referencing “renowned British Egyptologist Henry Salt (1780–1827), and with its numbered objects alludes to British colonial trading routes, overseas excavations, collecting and connoisseurship.”
She is excavating stories from the slave trade, tied in with the British colonialism, and how there was not just trade in ancient artefacts or precious commodities, but in human lives too.
Himid is not just pointing the finger at wrongdoers, but raising questions about ownership, representation, value, curation of information, contribution and context, questions so vital in our Field exploration.
“Swallow Hard: The Lancaster Dinner Service, 2007 Himid defines Swallow Hard: The Lancaster Dinner Service as ‘an intervention, a mapping and an excavation. It is a fragile monument to an invisible engine working for nothing in an amazingly greedy machine. It remembers slave servants, sugary food, mahogany furniture, greedy families, tobacco and cotton fabrics but then mixes them with British wild flowers, elegant architecture and African patterns. […] This work is not a memorial but more an encouraging incentive for everyone committed to restoring the balance, revealing the truths and continuing the dialogues.’ “
Her plate intervention was a great example for us of what we could do as proposal for this project. Using museum artefacts to curate and show different side of a plate; even by altering them.
“Freedom and Change, 1984 ‘Discourse is a primary tool against the weapons used to marginalise and write out of history our contribution / she who writes herstory rewrites history.’ – Maud Sulter, 1990 Freedom and Change is a bold example of Himid’s ‘rewriting of history’, as proposed by the poet, curator and artist Maud Sulter, via the reference to Picasso – the epitome of masculine painterly energy. These women are personifications of freedom and change: they look to the future by embracing the past, yet overturning oppressive colonial histories. By quoting a painting from Picasso’s ‘return to order’ neoclassical period (1918–25), Himid comments on the rampant political conservatism at the height of the Thatcher era.”
Coming from the innovative furniture piece of Penguin Donkey as my catalyst object from the Ken Stradling Collection, created for the revolutionary paperback Penguin books; I want to follow the trajectory of mass production of good design for good value, available to masses, with rich context provided through the ethos of Penguin books.
I want to learn and explore the industrial processes involved in ceramic production such as technical drawing, prototype making, lathe and whirling, slip casting, CNC, etc. Looking at pure and simple functionalism, with elements drawn from the Penguin Donkey and classical Modernist designs, features including soft curves, long legs and layered plywood.
Exploring the colour scheme dominated by warm reds and mostly orange, I want to explore social ideals and directions, as another layer to the objects. With it the repetition, and presence of body within a space, and repetition relating to identity and individuality within, and its composition/curation.
I feel I want to explore these ideas through more experimental and sculptural work as well, to guide the functional design and possibly challenge preconceptions of functionalism and the processes used. This also extends the ideas and processes I’ve been through with my Public Art Field.
As my professional practice, I’m organising structural work experience, possibly in an area of selling ceramics and its industry, or teaching and providing workshops, or museums and curation as linked to our project brief.
For my technical I want to take the opportunity of exhibiting in the new Craft Gallery of Saint Fagans, and create an educational and innovative way of looking at colour through ceramics, in particularly through slips and stains.
I would join the effort with Morgan Dowdall, so we could produce more spectacular collage presenting colours in slips, in as fun and engaging way possible.
For now we would divide the colour wheel into warm and cold halves, with me exploring the warm spectrum: from warm Greens to Yellow, Reds through warm Purples.
This will contribute to my Subject project further exploring slips, its colours and colour combinations through layering.
Appropriation of Penguin Books’ design and its symbolical use within art.
The distinctive, horizontal blocks of colour and text within as a cover design of Penguin’s paperbacks, proved so iconic that its appropriation on a simple utilitarian ceramic mug became highly popular merchandise.
In Grayson’s Perry “The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal” (2012), a monumental piece of tapestry from his series, he is using these mugs as a social class symbol, and the movement through classes.
“On the table is a still life demonstrating the cultural bounty of his affluent lifestyle”. Together with the French press, car keys with Damien Hirst like skull keychain, local organic jam, fresh vegetables on the Guardian newspapers or the raw wood table they are all placed on, they are the symbols, the style-creators of aspirational middle classes.
They represent an aspiration for wealth of knowledge as well as monetary wealth, success and domestic nostalgia.
Douglas Coupland is another artist, and novelist appropriating the Penguin Books in his collages, and text based visual art, blurring the boundaries of art and literature.
This collage of “Jet Boy Jet Girl”, a song name stuck as vinyl stencils onto Penguin Book titles such as “Two Adolescents” by Alberto Moravia.
The punk song by Elton Motello about 15 years old boy’s lust and sexual relationship with an older man adds another complexity to the bluring of bounderies.
The ‘correct’ place for people within their social class or sexuality is challenged, and the nature and freedom of movement between them explored.
If I want it or not, appropriating the Penguin Books or the Penguin Donkey in my work will have significant impact on the context it carries.