These past few weeks I have mainly been researching installation and ceramic artists, and experimenting with ceramics, playing around with glazes and throwing some shapes. My initial plan was to produce a film of myself making a large (30cm) bottle shaped pot on a wheel, glazing it and then dropping it, before gluing it back together using the Kintsugi technique. This relates to the theme of rebirth in the Abrahamic religions, as it is about creation, death and resurrection (judgement day), and also uses the story of God making man from earth, which is essentially what clay is (this idea appears in many, many cultures). I also considered the Jewish folk tale, whereby a Rabbi makes a golem – a man made of clay – and places a scroll in his mouth so that he can talk. I spoke to my tutor and they suggested that I stop researching my concept for this project and focus on an idea, so I won’t work on exploring the science part of this and instead just work on the religious aspect, as this is what I have the most ideas for.
I didn’t want to follow traditional Japanese technique of using a lacquer and gold dust, as that is for repairing pots which are already broken. This is about me creating, destroying, and re-creating, and so it must be done in a style of way that I feel reflects me and my practice. I want the pots to be really brightly glazed, or textured like Lucie Rie’s volcanic and feldspathic glazes. I was influenced by her style of pots and use of colour in her glazes, especially those which are pink. I think I will mix glue with glitter, and stick my broken ceramics back together not too carefully, so that the brokenness of it is evident. I am also considering buying some gross, tacky vases from a charity shop, mashing them up and gluing them back together in a lump, kind of a representation of reanimating corpses (a concept that appears particularly in West African and Haitian culture, however a lot of tribes in Africa, South America and Oceana leave the bodies of their dead out to be eaten by animals before burial so that the body cannot come back to life, and the soul can travel peacefully on)
These past couple of weeks I’ve had a lot of trouble with throwing. I only learnt how to do it in February, and I am not very strong, so while I was trying to build up the amount of clay I was using gradually so that I would be able to produce a large pot, I simply couldn’t. I just don’t have the physical strength at the moment, if I practised for months and months I could do. This came to a head when I began filming yesterday, but I just couldn’t control the clay (it isn’t helping that I’m super tired and ill at the moment), got stressed and ha to go lie down in the life room for half an hour to calm down. I’ve thought about my options, perhaps making the pot with coils instead, but I like the act of throwing, it is fast and I have a short attention span. I have decided instead to produce 3-5 small bottles, of varying shapes, around 10-20 cm, textured using slip and brightly glazed. Most of the pots I have been throwing are this size, mainly cylinder shapes to practise my technique, one shallow bowl and two bottles. I haven’t turned any yet so I will need to do this on my final pots once they are leather hard. I am still going to film the process, but it will be more of a documentation than a conceptual film, which was my original idea to have the pot making as part of the film with someone entering and crawling out of a pool. I think perhaps I could have the pots representing resurrection and the film representing reincarnation, which would evoke a sort of sense of “Duality” within this project.
I’ve also been thinking about the film as I want to have a bit before the water scene with someone dancing in the woods to music, and then walking to the pool, jumping in and floating. I want this to loop, maybe with different music each time. The set that I want for it – I have been looking at installation artists such as Mai Thu Perret, Michael Beutler, Karla Black, and Ernesto Neto for the aesthetic for this. Mai Thu Perret’s work is futuristic, feminine and folkish, Karla Black’s work is really appealing to me because of her use of pastel colours with weird materials, and Ernesto Neto’s soft hanging installations are really interesting. I want to be able to reproduce the set for my exhibition and project my film through it. Looking at installation artists really helps with every aspect of my work because I find the aesthetics so inspiring. I think I will perhaps cover the floor in glitter for the installation (not for the set though as this will be harmful to the environment), which was slightly inspired by Mai Thu Perret’s use of silver in her sculptures, and I would like to have hanging pastel things (fabric or streamers or something) which my actor will dance under, because I really like Ernesto Neto and Karla Black’s hanging pastel installations.
Exciting things are coming soon; I’ve finished college for the semester and I’m going back home to visit my parents for the weekend, then I’m off to Paris to visit my best friend for a week (and drag her around every gallery, museum and artspace in the city). After I get back I’ll be working to set up Michael Beutler’s first solo UK exhibition, Pump House, at the gallery I volunteer at, Spike Island. After Easter break I’ll be working on my resurrection series alongside making a film exploring reincarnation, which is going to be super fun.