It was very interesting to remount WhyTheFace? at the Crypt Gallery during the London Design Festival in September. Recent graduates from Central Saint Martin’s 2019 BA and MA Ceramics programmes came together for Lasting Impressions, a group exhibition, showing a broad church of work. And how appropriate is that? The wonderfully atmospheric brick vaults of St Pancras parish church on Euston Road were a great backdrop for our work. Contemporary ceramics set against subterranean London Clay brick walls.
Click below for a walk through of my installation. The clay stop-frame animated film was projected on bare walls, sculpture dotted around the gallery space on stone stairs, and various metal and wooden plinths. It was great to see the film projected on such a large scale, filling the wall. The whole work took on a superhuman feel, resonating with my thesis work on the monstrous golem.
The exhibition had a nice write up in Domus, the Italian design magazine too. Click here to view. Or below are a few other images of my work at the show.
Here are some images from my fellow exhibitors work too..
WhyTheFace? my graduating project is finished and ready to be seen. After 10 weeks of work, today is the final day of installing the Central St Martins Degree Show. The official Private View takes place on Tuesday 18th June, and it is open to the general public Wednesday – Saturday 19-21 June from 12-8pm and on Sunday 22 June12-6pm. Please do pop into the show to see it. Or you can click on the Vimeo link below to see an excerpt from the stop frame clay animation, with a sequence expressing fear.
What’s it all about?
WhyTheFace? is a study of what emotions look like and feel like. A personal taxonomy inspired by Charles Darwin’s ground-breaking publication The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals in which he defined six emotions as fundamental to human evolution and universally understood, whether you live in Pinner or Papual New Guinea: Happiness, Sadness, Surprise, Fear, Anger and Disgust.
This exploration is both figurative and abstract.
An animated stop-motion portrait of William Pryor, Darwin’s Great Great Grandson, is interspersed with abstracted versions of the same emotions. Some of these gestural interpretations have been fired and are placed in the installation.
The portrait of Pryor, whose expression was changed over 200 times during the shooting of the film is left as raw clay, kept damp under a glass dome in suspended animation ready to be brought back to life. Condensation on the inside of the glass begs the question: Is he still breathing?
A cluster of fired specimens on the shelf capture other examples of the six emotions.
The work is a response to emerging scientific evidence that young toddlers are arriving in nursery with a delayed understanding of the facial expressions of emotions. This is linked to too much time spent on flat screen devices rather than in-the-flesh interactions with their care-givers.
The installation’s specimen shelf includes a ceramic ‘brain’ representing Digital Dementia, where the right side of the brain associated with mood control and empathy is underdeveloped, in comparison with the left.
Viewers are invited to enter my world. Both as a maker-space where I have created this work, but also as conceptual field.
The installation is designed to evoke a whispered message from Charles Darwin on the importance of empathy and understanding emotions. In today’s fast-paced, digitally obsessed world, the viewer is given permission to slow down and stare at the flesh of emotions. In this oneiric space they might catch a glimpse of themselves mirroring the expressions on display, emotional contagion – a shared experience of empathy.
Last Friday, my ceramic study of The Golem, took its next BIG steps.
Bin There, Done That
Having moulded the human-scale skeletal body parts during my month-long residency with Collective Matter in Bermondsey last October, I then smoke fired the work in a series of bin-firings over the following months.
The Big Reveal at London Craft Week 2019
The wonderful Collective Matter are now giving me the opportunity to exhibit this work at the Potting Shed, their collaborative space at Contemporary Sculpture Fulmer near Slough. The piece will be on show to visitors during London Craft Week on 8th May at CSF. I will also be running a workshop that day, co-creating with visitors a reclining clay Golem. This will culminate in us ‘planting’ the figure in the sculpture park’s woods, and sewing the raw clay golem with woodland wild flower seeds – clay is just as much a growing as sculpting medium, after all! To book tickets for this tour and workshop, which includes travel arrangements to and from the venue, nibbles and a glass of something sparkly, click here.
A Hanging Matter
Meanwhile, last week, my husband David and I, joined George Marsh, the sculpture park’s wonderful director, to hang my Golemic shadow puppet. Here are some pictures of how we got on. It was intense work, connecting and cinching wires so that the human scale marionette limbs could move. We deliberately put its arms and legs in tension so that the figure appears mid-stride, in suspended animation.
What will free the golem from this suspended animation? Who knows but we must be careful what we wish for ….
So two exhibition Private Views showing my work happened this week, within two days of each other: my Votive Feet were unveiled at The London Bridge Clay Project at Southwark Cathedral on Sunday night with a talk about the whole project by the wonderful Diane Eagles, and the next evening Craftsmanship Alone is Not Enough at the The Lethaby Gallery at Central St Martins, celebrating 100 years of ceramics being taught at CSM. For the latter one, I was chuffed to have my A1 Life plate from a 1st Year project included in a wall display called China Painting for Ladies, showcasing 39 plates by various artists, tutors and students past and present. These plates will be auctioned off to raise money for the Royal Crown Derby Charitable Trust and to contribute to material costs for present students. Click here if you want to bid for mine!
Alison Cooke & Duncan Hooson
Me with Steph Buttle
Alison and I
A couple of days after our ACWU event, my fellow exhibitors, Alison Cooke and Amy Leung were interviewed by London Live, about the exhibition. Click here to view it, and share it on social media if you are so inclined! Alison and Amy did us proud!
By the way the The London Bridge Clay Project will be in Southwark Cathedral until 5th February, so do pop in. There are postcards of my Votive Feet for sale in the gift shop.
Meanwhile, back to Craftmanship Alone is Not Enough, my plate is the one that looks like Archway A1 Gyratory signage. Stands out from the crowd? My thanks to the iconic UK road signage graphics by Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinneir which have been described as the corporate identity of Great Britain. My plate design was one of a series exploring key moments in my life lived for some reason more of less exclusively somewhere along the A1 road. Strangely, this has turned into a commemorative plate, as the Archway gyratory has been completely overhauled in the last 6 months, and is no longer a roundabout!
And on Monday night, my work was also being exhibited in a third London gallery around the corner from college at Pangolin London in Kings Place. My EaTin dishes were still in the Pangolin windows, having been there since November, although that exhibition came down the next day. But who cares! On Monday evening my work was in three galleries! I am hoping it is the shape of things to come!
Another day, another exhibition! My most recent project at college, a 4-week whirlwind, exploring slip casting in eco once-fired clay designed to manufacture with reduced carbon emissions, is now on display at the Pangolin London gallery at Kings Place til 13th January.
EaTin: not Take-away, are a series of colourful and playful stacking oven-to-table dishes for convivial home-cooked meals.
Appropriated from foil take-away containers, EaTin are behavioural change dishes, or conversation starters, aiming to address the increasing reliance on ready-made meals and encourage a return to home-cooking and shared meals.
The printed texts challenge users and highlight issues; “S’up?” playfully links the action ‘to sup’ with the street slang for asking how someone is. Sharing family meals has been shown to improve teenage mental health as problems are aired and issues discussed round the dinner table. Other slogans included: Today’s Special, Made @ Home, Made by Us.
Stoke on Trent based, Endeka generously sponsored our project with ample supplies of their special EcoTherm Clay, that is able to be Raw Glazed, and so once fired, reducing the carbon emissions significantly in the production process. Most often used to manufacture hard-wearing dishes used in the catering industry, my response was to design a series of stacking oven-to-table dishes in varying colours. But I wanted to make a point too. Hence the family-size, takeaway container shape and witty slogans aimed to get people thinking about the benefits of sharing a meal together. The project got me making miniature silk screens to direct print the slogans on the leather-hard cast dishes, mold making to capture the detail of the foil corners and edges, colouring the slip body and raw glazing on damp clay. Lots of firsts!
I seem to be crossing another Rubicon. My ceramics are now available to buy via Made In Arts London, (MiAL) a not-for-profit enterprise, promoting and selling art and design by UAL students and recent graduates. That includes me! I was so excited when my work was chosen by the selection panel to be included in the MiAL curated collection.
So if you have friends who enjoy spotting and collecting emerging artists and design talent please share this post with them. Or you fancy buying one of my pieces, ‘an early work’ then please click here and take a look at my new shop window. They are all one-off ceramic sculptures. The prices include the MiAL commission and delivery. Learning to sell my work will be one of the most important skills I hope to graduate from Central St Martins with … so please watch this space, and let me know what you think.
We had been set a brief to come up with porcelain giftware and objects that could be used in the planned Jingdezhen Porcelain Cultural Exchange Centre, in a new development planned for the birthplace of porcelain production, Jingdezhen in China. Yourun, our clients were keen that we develop designs that would encouraged creative playfulness with porcelain, were these pieces to be manufactured by the master craftsmen of Jingdezhen.
My response was Serendipity, a slip cast coat peg and set of door pulls and handles that explored the tension between Perfection and Imperfection, sleek finishes and rough ones that can be achieved when you contrast the sharp lines of slip casting with the roughness of clay snapped at the leatherhard stage.
Snapped clay from earlier project
Richness of snapped clay
Cast with a bullet end
Unique roughness snapped at leatherhard
Snap off end when leatherhard
Montage showing pegs with different colour tips
Line blend glaze test
Gradation of colour along pegs
Glaze to soften snapped clay
My project was designed to be contemporary, playful and bridge a cultural divide between craftsmen that seek perfection and those who embrace the happy accidents inherent in ceramics.
I was thrilled when I won a prize of £500 for my project. Thank you Yourun, for the provocation, generosity and opportunity.