Ceramic residency at La Pedrix, France

Undergoing immersive week extending my skills in sculpting, hand building, collaborating, performing and story telling.


Learning how to reclaim dry blocks of clay with no plaster, and in limited time was quite challenging. Arising to smashing the clay into almost powder with heavy tools, and after saturating it with limited amounts of water, building arches to let the sloppy clay dry.
However, accustoming myself with this new, locally dug clay was easier. I really enjoyed its unique colour as well as the groggy and rather sticky texture, even though it did not record the texture of my hand, which I normally try to keep.

Set with the task of creating a kiln based on a country and its stories/folklore, I started drafting ideas and searching for stories in Slovak/Slavic mythologies. I came up with some designs based on ‘Morena’ – goddess of Winter whose effigy is burned and thrown into a stream to welcome the Spring. However, its basic story didn’t really interest me, with obvious but messy symbolisms such as female fertility, rebirth, coldness, evil and beauty, burning witches, etc.

I was wondering, that there must be a folk story for every fairy common creature and natural phenomena, over the many years and geographies of human existence.
My first search trial was snails, as I like them and could relate to their slow and quiet exploration of the world.
Within Christian traditions they are perceived as evil, symbols of the deadly sin of sloth, laziness and apathy.
However, in Aztec stories snail is representing the moon, its shell the cycles of moon and is considered humble and respectful. Moreover, it has very interesting and different back story to the moon’s creation. I was instantly captured, and felt I could retell the story to others, with the kiln supporting the theatrical presentation perfectly.

 

I sketched multiple designs of snail like object with circular features representing the moon. At the end I stayed with fairy simple in detail but still challenging enough shape for me.

I felt I could really develop my aesthetics in hand building and sculpting, experimenting with this semi abstract form with emphasis on empty space and more organic, uneven surface. The red slip allowed me to separate the circle – moon and shell from the base, whilst white slip brushes added a bit more movement and clay dots another voids.

 

 

As a side project we had to construct a stackable camping set, but missing a collaborative element in the residency, I teamed up with Morgan. To allow us to focus on our kilns and produce something good in such a short time, we stripped down the stackable element to the basic and pumped up the fun element. Our fun ‘Camp’-ing Picknic Set included one big serving/salad bowl with decoration imitating weaved basket, and limp wristed hands as handles. Inside the bowl could fit: 2 smaller and 2 bigger plates with penis pattern decoration and illustrations of me and Morgan; 2 high heel leg wine glasses; double bum bowl, and 2 sets of cutlery in shape of hands, penises and lips with lipstick.

 

 

Exploring France through the few trip we had was a rich experience.
With very camp and opulent, gilded Italian tea set from a car boot sale, giving us more inspirations for the Camp Camping Set and its decoration that awaited.
The cliff-side town with a whole church cut into the rockside, and small well shrines in a potter’s studio was a captivating example of slow growth and transformation: through inorganic – chiseling out the pillars, walls and features of the church, or waters eroding voids and channels into the rock; to organic – moss and mold growing on the faces of rock walls from the trickling of water and moisture present, and various plants finding any sunny surfaces to plant their roots.
It was fun to find many snails, some in crazy, almost surreal forms, in various art and souvenir shops.

 

 

 

March Formative Assessment Presentation

My presentation for March Formative Assessment, highlighting key points of development from beginning of our main SUBJECT project – Connections and Object(ions), and reflection on the Ken Stradling Collection.
Returning from FIELD module, it shows the significant creative impact it had on my SUBJECT.


 

PDF file of March Assessment Presentation

Finally Sculpting

Coming from Field, I was reminded of how much I actually enjoy sculpture and the synthesis of ideas within three-dimensional installation.
I went ahead with building and sketching.


Experiences from both of my fields were inspirational to the extend that they changed my work in this year’s project completely. From direct, tight, designed and functional tableware to more broad look across the art fields (illustration, sculpture, graphic design, historical collections, etc.), and practical explorations of the ideas through more fun and experimental, sculptural exploration.
The colours and animistic features of the Penguin Donkey, my catalyst object from the Ken Stradling Collection, are still present, but now I’m more free to explore ideas around containment, storage and systems that classify and order the stuff and things that they embody.

Initial sketches, inspired by Angus Suttie’s colourful and imaginative ceramic alterations and surrealist’s game of ‘exquisite corpse’ of not really knowing what will happen next, a kind of system of order and dis-order.

  1. Mick Morgan showed us his quick technique of building large pots, which I adapted to create a larger cabinet, planning to play with texture, additions, colour, etc.
    2. Smaller cabinet with legs.

3. 4. two cabinet like structures which were faster to create and explore notion of space and system repetition.

Collect (22)

Visiting COLLECT, as an art fair for “contemporary objects” was such a different experience, compare to the museum and gallery setting we’ve been exposed to during our Field.
The excitement of new, as well as the people – makers and artists themselves standing next to their work, curators and galleries, collectors and enthusiast – made the viewing different. Sometimes it was more critical, but mostly more open minded and eager to learn more: from the makers themselves, by handling the objects or discussing with other visitors.


The Old Fire Station and Modern Art Oxford (5, 6)

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.

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“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.

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“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.”