What a year has it been, from Ken Stradling, going through CoCA, travelling to Korea, visting a breadth of museums in a minivan, Ceramics Art London, Collect and the endless opportunities that this years has offered, the list goes on.
I felt the pressure was set on me to identify what type of artist I consider myself to be or at least begin to, but without realising I end up exploring themes that are entwined with one another and if I had to define myself I would definitely say I am an artist that ended up with clay to explore his ideas. Yes, because I’m definitely not a potter let alone a craftsman, all ‘negative’ connotations which I actually been exploring for my dissertation. With that I have been trying to defend ceramics as a term in craft and investigating how it appropriates within the fine art spectrum.
Picking the Gordon Baldwin piece as a catalyst from the Ken Stradling Collection was essential for this development. Very much interested in the whole movement from the 60s where artists like Gordon Baldwin and Alison Britton took inspiration from Hans Coper and moving away from the Bernard Leach Anglo-Oriental style to a more modernist aesthetic by challenging the notions of functional ceramics and the wheel-thrown methods used by production potters.
Artists like William Staite Murray have inspired me massively as a practitioner. Him as an artist defending his position within the art hierarchy as an artists that uses clay. He identified how unacknowledged clay as a material was. Murray made it his mission to raise the status of pottery to the level of fine art, seeing pottery as the missing link between painting and sculpture as it combined elements of both. He gave most of his works titles, charged “high art” prices for them and shared exhibitions with painters such as Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood. Where as, Hans Coper defining his work as pots although they are seen as sculpture by many today. Intriguing propositions which have helped me to question my identity and how I define myself as a practitioner.
Materiality has been a big theme I looked at this year and by relying completely on the potential and possibility of clay, especially porcelain. The technique of coiling relies absolutely on time and the senses remembered on the fingertips as the thumb and index finger press the clay for it to form into a certain thickness and to stick together. Such way of working applies minimum use of tools and machines, and completely adapts my body to the work as well as the work to my body. Through craft, objects are invited to return to the human life where they belong, where they can provide the psychological foundation for us to realize humanity and establish bonds and exchanges with each other.
How I see objects in relation to one another has completely changed. ‘Connections and Object(ions)’ has helped me to begin to identify the contexts in which collections are sat on. By examining different methods of interpretation we can enhance their function or meaning and the range of institutions in which they are curated can inform that interpretation. In addition, having the Field module, ‘Wunderkammer Road Trip’ has been a great opportunity to expand my contextual research by understanding the connections these collections have. With a result I began to better understand how I see my work within the wider world and began to display and curate my work more at ease.
In Conclusion, the fast track that the past two years have gone is incredible, however, I am beginning too identify the key areas I am more drawn to within my work and therefore defining myself as to what type practitioner I am. These of course will continue until next year and probably be more concise but perhaps I will never find out completely what I am all about.