The Venice Biennale and BCB – Draft

Two internationally important shows provided me with context for the start of the new academic year.
One ceramic orientated, the other one focused on modern international art helped me position myself between these two and bring plenty of inspirations.

Both featured great number of sculptural works, but the Venice Biennial provided much larger scope and form, in many cases challenging the field of sculpture on an international level.

In Venice, I could become sculpture, through the form of action, or rather interaction.

A large, old and abandoned wooden hut by Georgian artist Vajiko Chachkhiani transports you to a very real place with the strong sense of angst, loneliness, and the weight of history, politics and religion. The air is full of musky wooden aroma, escaping from the crafted wood structure, which is echoing with irregular water drips as they fall on the interior wooden floor.


Only to be later confused by mirror maze where objects merge into new forms in their reflection, by Alicja Kwade from Poland. Furthermore, her large stone planets reminded me about the fundamental materiality of our world, and its dominance on our lives. IMG_3119-COLLAGE.jpg

Venice allows you to wear art

or be totally engulfed in the city’s colours, light and reflections, material richness and the history of architectural cultivation. IMG_2997-COLLAGE

The light, shadow and materiality was further explored in an installation by Gerard Kuijpers and Karyn Taylor.

Materiality was very much one of the themes running through the Venice Biennale.
French-Vietnamese artist Thu-Van Tran presents to us a historic, as well as sensory and physical perspective on rubber. A substance with strong materiality, potential and abstract, that can be moulded and stained. History is story of occupation, contamination, interaction. Same as there’s no one that hasn’t been stained by the nature, the world.

The Italian pavilion presented a sculptural landscape determined by materiality. Of its decay and rebirth, and persistence of our ideals, believes and hopes.


The anti-monumental qualities of the decaying body were interestingly reflected in the British Pavilion, monumentally presented by Phyllida Barlow. It gave a sense that everything is rather one big complex mess, and we humans are somewhat tiny, but can still trip and contribute to the cascading disarray. IMG_3273-COLLAGE.jpgIMG_3252-COLLAGE.jpg

In the Danish pavilion natural greenery and simple geometrical sculptures – soaked and dripping, beautifully overtook the architecture, to become a complex sculpture, a maze.










Tea for Two – Progress/Process

Progress of the 4 weeks, working on the Tea for Two project, illustrated through photographs.


Stitching number of pieces of fabric to create moulds for the parts of tea set.
Tea for 2
Filling the fabric moulds with plaster to create number of plaster prototypes.
These then can be used to create plaster moulds for casting with slip.Tea for 2




More plaster shapes and components.Tea for 2






Plaster saucers.

Tea for 2


Used fabric moulds dipped in black slip and fired.
This method is actually much faster and simpler than making plaster moulds, with better, undisturbed detail. More experimental shapes are possible, just less functional.
Tea for 2


Slip-casted and fired cups.Tea for 2


Fired slipware, some of them glazed, with oxide wash and transparent glaze, or other.
Tea for 2 Tea for 2

Tea for Two – Plaster workshop

Working continuously for over a week in the plaster room to create plaster prototypes from my textile stitched cups and then plaster moulds for slipware.

Textile cupAs I wanted to explore the holding and containing abilities of a tea set, and possible absence of it, I looked at shape created by the act of accommodating.
I chose textiles and stitch as it’s another object associated with home and domestic environment. Available at my house too, I spend few late evenings cutting shapes and stitching them together to govern the final shape to some extend, to at least appear like a cup or a teapot.
Textile mould

Tea for 2









Supporting form while plaster hardens




Filled with plaster, even thought the textiles forms were assembled from number of parts to hold the shape, the plaster was much heavier and overpowered the stitches.
In some cases I had to hold the shape until the plaster hardened, or supported them with boards, strings or in a container.

Teacups from 1 textile mould Teacups from 1 textile mould

At the end I ended up with fairly large amounts of prototypes, as the teacup moulds were open, allowing me to separate the plaster and textile without the need of ripping it, as necessary with other textile moulds. I was free to experiment with the way they stand and fold, turning them inside out, bounding them with string, etc.

Teapot spout?

Attempting for a smaller components such as spouts and handles, which are trickier.
The only worry is how much they will shrink in the kiln as a slip cast, and being able to pour.
Plaster mould
The hardest and most time consuming part was creating the 3 plaster moulds for slip casting.
With highly irregular shape, I had to look for many undercuts and divide the shape into 4 to 8 part moulds.

However, taking every opportunity to work in the plaster room, I managed to produce the 3 fairly complicated moulds in about a week + extra day or two; getting essential skills at more detailed plaster mould making. Of course through many mistakes too.

Into the Fold – Harriet McCarmick

At this week’s ‘Into the Fold’ lectures, a recent MA Ceramics graduate presented her Degree work, future plans, Fireworks studios and participation at exhibition at ‘Made in Roath’

Harriet McCarmick is interested in investigation and using natural elements such as deer antlers, legs, feathers; as well as taxidermy, and translating all of this into ceramics, through abstracted forms.
These then acquire metamorphic, and narrative qualities – with help of using colour, shape, position and light.
Through this she questions how objects are perceived in space, and impact on the visual connections with natural world.

2D, sketchbook work was always important to her, and in MA, colour starts to creep into her work.20151016_12381320151016_124111
She is creating cast for all her objects, and casting using stained slip, never any glaze, but fires them slightly higher for her distinctive finish.

Harriet’s career in ceramics started when she missed her interview for Fine Art course, and came to the BA Ceramics at CSAD instead. She then stayed for her MA and now she is part of the Graduate Residency at the Fireworks Clay Studios in Cardiff.
Exhibiting her MA work in September, she is trying to exhibit as much as possible, setting up a gallery with other MA graduates at the Made in Roath festival.
Her ambition is PHD and possibly lecturing in the future, which I hope will be a success as I found her lecture and work very captivating.

It’s a great inspiration listening to a successful and interesting recent graduate, with a such great body of work, sketchbook pages and explorational journey.