Serpentine Gallery and the V&A (20, 21)

Straight after our final Field Trip to the North of England, we went to London for the weekend and managed to see briefly yet another 2  exhibitions, giving us another examples of curation, exhibition space, and context.

Serpentine Gallery had very interesting exhibition on Zaha Hadid, completely changing my expectation on presenting architecture within gallery setting.
The gallery is located in the Hyde Park, so I asume that is the reason why there were such surprising number of people. It made me think that park experience must be linked to experiencing art, for majority of people.


 


A very quick visit to V&A, but so valuable  when we found exhibition on changing design and changing world’s ideas: mostly on consumerism, status and globalisation.

Manchester Art Gallery (19)

Another great comprehensive museum with intriguing mix of new design esthetics from across the world, photography of the UK through eyes of outsiders, or local artists and their eye.
Even exciting curation of contemporary art next to classical collections; extending the ideas and viewpoints within the grouped themes.


 

Statements of Intentions

Subject

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.


Technical

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.
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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. screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-02-21-09

This will contribute to my Subject project further exploring slips, its colours and colour combinations through layering.


http://www.tigercolor.com/color-lab/color-theory/color-theory-intro.htm

Refining Plaster Prototype

Altering turned shape made on the plaster lethe; trying multitude of tools.


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As my intention to create 4 different feet as a base for the cup, inspired by the 4 legs of the Penguin Donkey couldn’t be realised through the lathe turning stage, I had to work onto the turned form further, and carve the feet away.

Drawing a technical sketch of the base in my sketchbook, and carefully calculating the legs’ positions, I could place my turned form onto it to accurately mark the legs’ positions.

I started carving away bigger chunks with range of small hoop or cutting tools. However, that proved too brutal and I was scared I would accidentally damage the prototype.
Therefore, I went to small metals workshop and used Dremel tool to precisely carve the feet away with much more control in my hands.

This proved as a great, precise and fast way to alter a prototype. Using multitude of attachments and different speed settings I could carve away bigger chunks, take small quantity of plaster closer to the feet and get into the more awkward angles, 20161203_125357as well as smooth the surface level.

To smooth all the edges precisely, I had to switch to using wet-and-dry sand paper of various grades, to safely file away the small quantities of plaster.


I again rather enjoyed doing small, precise and planned manual alteration of form.

However, I’m not entirely happy with the prototype. I feel the legs and bottom curve should be even more pronounced, to better represent the original Penguin Donkey and its long feet and profound curves. I’m afraid the shrinkage of the clay after glaze firing will make the features rather insignificant.

At the end, it is only a test piece to challenge my skills further. I hope I’ll be able to
produce even better and more prototypes with more confidence20161203_131240.

Plaster turning on the lathe

After initial induction into the technique and safety of the machinery used, this year; I could draw a detailed design and create a template, to produce an exact replica of my plans in as high detail and accuracy as my novice skills allow.


Relating to my themes of simplicity, aspiration, and mass production I chose to create a 20161130_202330simple design of a cup that I could practice translating in high accuracy into a plaster prototype, using a lather.
Reading “The Workshop Guide to Ceramics” by Duncan Hooson and Anthony Quinn to guide me, I created a technical drawing to help me record all the details I would need later when turning the plaster.

The simple shape was inspired by my catalyst object from Ken Stradling collection, or rather its first version, with the distinctive base curve with protruding legs, giving it its symbolic name “Donkey”.

I transferred the drawing onto a thick card to guide me in my progress while turning the plaster.
Due to the thickness of the card, I think I lose some details, so next time I’ll have to use thinner one.

To create the 4 separate legs I turned a distinctive foot for the cup, with intention to try to carve and dremle away the excess later.


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Using a multitude of tools and carving away very carefully and little, while often checking the progress with the template was it seemed the best approach to acquire a high accuracy.
The biggest struggle really was to imagine and see the different angles and try to recreate them in multitude of places at the same time so that the template could slide in a bit further each time.


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At the end I was rather happy with the result. The template was slightly off a millimetre or 2, but all the angles and curves were exactly how I wanted them to be.
Moreover, I really enjoyed this highly controlled and measured, then carefully detailed and intricate process to create something exactly as designed.
However, next time I could try more creative and spontaneous approaches?
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Penguin Donkey

Visiting the Ken Stradling collection and choosing our catalysts for our projects.
My eyes were drawn to a small 1963’s book case on 4 legs, filled with orange book-spines.
The extraordinary story of this small piece of furniture took me on a journey through the world wars, revolution in book publishing, architecture and all the ambitious ideas of modernism.


The ISOKON manufactured and designed by Ernest Race in the 1963 – ISOKON PENGUIN DONKEY MARK 2, displayed within the Ken Stradling collection was the starting point for me.

The father of the original Penguin david-tatham-donkeyDonkey was Egon Riss. As a Bauhaus-educated architect from Vienna, relocated to the UK, he started to experiment with new exploration within plywood bending and its possibilities.
His purpose build piece of furniture was commissioned by then very new, but a very rapidly successful paperback publisher Penguin Books. They revolutionised the easy of consuming our books and made it available to masses; by having best classical and modern works of literature produced in small, portable and cheap paperback format.
The new purpose build holder needed to reflect the easy and new way of reading; the books being close, always available within an arm’s reach from a chair, compare to conventional storage of great library like bookshelves.
The Donkey was manufactured using thin birch plywood, which became unavailable due to the outbreak of the Second World War, and all the plywood was directed for war purposes.
With only 100 pieces manufactured, the production ceased to halt.

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ISOKON tried to revive the forgotten and never manufactured in a larger scale design by commissioning Ernest Race to create a modern version of this highly functional piece of furniture. The form changing drastically, loosing its early modernist curves for cold and sharp minimalists angles. The top is flattened to serve another function, as a coffee/side table, but still keeping its middle gap for magazines and newspapers.

This object caught my interest most from the Ken Stradling collection because of its minimal, functional design, purpose built for another object, as well as the white neutral colours giving prominence to the bright colour sleeves and ideas of display and containment.
However, it is the original curvy design and the story surrounding it and its makers and processes that I want to expand on.

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In 2003 The Donkey saw another redesign by Shin and Tomoko Azumi, bringing back the curves, but still keeping some of the right angles. I feel it’s a nice fusion of the two designs, bringing extra functionality by the side handles and completely closing the top to function as a small table.

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