Ceramics have a unique place in the creative output of mankind. It is a primordial act to use earth, water and fire to create a vessel. Since the dawn of civilisation, the teaching of this skill has been passed from one generation to the next, giving humanity the capacity to store resources, to trade and develop a sophisticated relationship with environment. Over time, as the iteration of form following function continues, the vessel has become a foundation not only of the necessity and logistics of survival, but a platform to express cultural values and narratives in the aesthetics of a vessel's decoration and construction methods.
In Archaeological research, when digging a site of a once forgotten civilisation, shards of pottery can show specific periods of culture. These pieces of ceramic can reveal to the keen eye, the time period of their creation, the technology used, the socioeconomics structure of the society and the way the people from these cultures saw themselves within their relationship to universe around them.Vessels 2015 September 2015 Exhibition Opening
When viewing ‘Vessels 2015’ group ceramics exhibition at 1st Avenue Gallery from this perspective you can not only draw meaning that the artists have imbued into the their individual works, but also take a deeper reflection upon this point in time our of own culture. The ceramics presented in this exhibition are created in a time where computing is permeating every aspect of our lives, giving us precise manufacturing techniques that when veiled in consumer packaging can remove the incalculable forces in nature. Our daily objects can now be made by robots and 3D printing without ever receiving hands-on human input in the process.
The negative storyteller will see these developments as pathway to loss of what makes us human, but through reducuction of price by mass production of our common luxury goods and objects, the hope is that this shift will increase the cultural value of the objects created with artisan input, the search for items that hold personal stories and a demand for the uniqueness that can only come from a man-made object.Vessels 2015 Sept 2015 1st Avenue Gallery Installation
There is delicateness to these works in this exhibition, a sensitivity that can only come from the refined hands of an artist. This is best expressed by John Tuckwell’s works - two tall slender tower like vessels made from paper thin porcelain with rich vibrant textures and abstract glazed designs.Tasamin Pepper Meander, I to VII 2015 Porcelain with glaze, engobes, oxide and wet & dry polish 140 x 90 x 70 mm to 200 x 120 x 90 mm
Artists such as Rob Slingsby and Tamasin Pepper keep the traditional practices of wheel-spun pottery alive, expressed by the finger marks that define the functionality of the forms. Pepper’s series ‘Meander’ have a sophisticated line that connects her work in a visual narrative that evokes the landscape and inner surfaces that echo the marks of ancient finger fluting.
There are many different approaches, that the artists have employed on display. Some of the works are functional vessels and others posses a contemporary aesthetic beholden unto themselves and the narratives of form and culture they contain. These works, by removing the functional utility as a container, highlight the deeper cultural discussion of the ‘vessel’ serving as a metaphor for the body and the dynamic narratives that can be alluded to in the polarities of the container and the contained.Parma Keft Chimney Pot 2015 Porcelain and mono-print 110 x 110 x 110 mm
Parma Keft’s decorative vessels ‘Chimney Pots’ have exquisite forms like bloated pyramids adorned with a chimney shoot and balance precariously on their curved bases. This graceful instability imbues a protective preciousness in the viewer like when Discovering a nest of eggs in the branch of a tree. All these elements combined to infer meaning in the work, communicating to the abstract realm of the intellect before ideas and feelings are transformed into words. This brings context and narrative that lift the vessels from being objects of craft and into the cultural commentary held by works of fine art.
The standout piece in the exhibition is David Tucker’s ceramic and acrylic paint sculpture ‘OOF!’, exceptional in its contemporary aesthetic. What metaphorical forces have created the transformation of the shape? It appears to be a response to what could be a violent external impact denting its’ simple symmetrical form, yet this is a playful work. It's mood and colour are like that of an edible sweet, offering a hopeful stand against an impacting force. As a work it also gives a snapshot. of this time in history where line between the digital and physical merge, as it could be an anthropomorphic character from 3d animation expressing a splapstick punchine to a greater narrative of the impeding crisis of radical social change before us.Vessels 2015 Sept 2015 1st Avenue Gallery Installation