Saturday, 21 October 2017

Autumn exhibition, 2017 - the Stour gallery




Autumn exhibition, 2017, the Stour Gallery, Shipston-on-Stour.


Lavinia Gallie:









Carol Sinclair:

Carol Sinclair is a sculptor living and working in Hildersham in rural Cambridgeshire. The river Granta, which passes her house set in water meadows is a frequent source of inspiration. Her sculpture uses mixed media, frequently wood, reeds and other natural materials. 'I am intrigued by the natural process of reduction and regeneration; by the effects of natural forces such as water on wood, stone and metals; by the way the materials are eroded and broken down to basic elements. Even hostile man-made materials such as plastics are gradually coaxed and nudged by the elements into becoming soft, round and delicately coloured in the regeneration process'.

There is often great beauty in naturally eroded materials - they encapsulate the elusive concept of time and infinity. She likens her sculpture to the contemplative qualities of Japanese design. Similarly, it is about stillness and observance of things.





Ceramic bowl with pebbles




Flotsam Staithe




looking closer



Pebble Staithe



looking closer




Grey pebble hemisphere







looking closer



Niche wall piece





Staithe Cube




Staithe Cube


Belinda Durant:

I was very pleased to see some of Belinda Durrant's work in the exhibition. I am a great fan of her work - you can see more of it here and here




Gilded Cage (hand coloured drypoint)




The Five Poisons (papercut, watercolour)

Durrant is a conceptual artist so most of her sculptures are accompanied by a statement. This is the statement for The Five Poisons:

'The five poisons, snake, centipede, toad scorpion and lizard (sometimes spider) are used as decorations during the Dragon Boat Festival that takes place on what was in ancient China considered to be one of the most dangerous and inauspicious days of the year. It occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month, according to the lunar calendar. In 2017 it is on 30th of May. This is traditionally considered to mark the beginning of summer. Heralding by midseason the arrival of dangerous animals and insects, the spread of infectious diseases, and the appearance of evil spirits.

The Chinese believe in combatting poison with poison. They used to drink wine containing arsenic of cinnabar (containing mercury) to drive away the evil spirits and poisonous animals during the Drago Boat Festival. However the most common form of protection from danger was to wear five poison charms. Parents would have their children wear an amulet bearing the images of all of the five 
poisons. The idea was that the presence of all five poisons together neutralised their individual effects and the child would be protected. Parents still dress their children in clothing decorated with all five poisons during the Dragon Boat Festival.

My five poisons are on five separate pairs of Chinese lotus shoes. The practice of foot binding was begun on girls as young as 3-4 years old and was instigated by their parents, usually the mother, because without tiny golden lotus feet, the girl would be considered un-marriageable and therefore worthless. The process of foot binding was very dangerous and often led to the loss of toes, a limb, or even death from sepsis.

A person can only wear one pair of shoes at a time...'





The Five Poisons, Snake




The Five Poisons, Lizard




Small Reliquary, (lead, mixed media)

'I learned a little about the manufacture of silk when I was artist in residence at Sudeley Castle. Its Victorian Chatelaine Emma Dent came from the Brocklehurst family who were silk mill owners. I managed to rear a few silk worms on leaves from the mulberry tree Emma planted at Sudeley Castle. Watching these strange creatures toiling away spinning their cocoons I became aware of how underrated they are.

It takes each larva around 3 days to make its cocoon from one continuous thread. It takes around 110 cocoons to make a tie and 630 for a fine silk blouse. In honour of these amazing little creatures I decided to make a reliquary. A reliquary is a richly decorated, often bejewelled container for precious holy relics. These relics might be nothing more than a small fragment of cloth or a piece of bone and they almost never have a monetary value. Their value is in their origin, usually some saintly or religious figure of extreme importance to members of that religion. To place the moth and the fruits of its labour inside a reliquary should raise the status of the poor silk moth from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Yet it does not.

This box, although decorated, is not of precious metals. It is not bejewelled. It is of base metal.

Silk moths are still reared in bulk, as a commodity. On the one hand they are prized for their 'achievements' yet on the other, they are worthless. It is what they make that counts, not what they are'.





Butterfly Slippers, (papercut/mixed media)

'These were made in response to a visit to the Butterfly House at Berkeley Castle. Inside there are so many exotic butterflies and it is possible to get really close to them. In fact they sometimes alight upon the visitors, much to everyone's delight. They are light as a feather, fragile, ephemeral creatures... so easily harmed. I had to watch where I walked as they were everywhere, even on the ground.

This is how Butterfly Slippers came about. A delicate step was required, so delicate slippers would be the best thing to wear. I have exaggerated this point by making my slippers too delicate. They are made of paper cut and if worn, would be destroyed. This is to reflect the ephemeral fragility of a butterfly'.





Tissue Corset with Birds, (drypoint on Japanese tissue)




Solitary Swallow, (watercolour and stitch on cotton)

'When I was artist in residence at Sudeley Castle two young swallows somehow managed to become trapped in the stairwell of the haunted staircase. Whilst it was worrying to see them stuck and trying to escape, it was also wonderful to watch their graceful flight and listen to them calling each other. Then suddenly one was gone! It had flown at a weak point in the window, breaking the fragile lead and so pushing its way out. The other was left perching on the window just looking.

I have used stitch direction to emphasise the subtle shades of blue, green and predominantly black and the lustre of the feathers. For the architectural features I used repetitive patterning. The geometrical design of the leaded windows offered an opportunity to refer to the geometric patterns of Tudor blackwork so the patterns used are based on blackwork stitch patterns although are rendered far more freely, ignoring both the traditional method of thread counting and the strictly limited palette of blackwork embroidery'.



Thursday, 19 October 2017

Ceramics at the Stour Gallery




Another great exhibition at the Stour Gallery. I am going to cover some of the exhibits in two posts as there was so much I liked.


Jane Perryman:

These pieces are double-walled and hollow, using coiling, press moulding and slabbing techniques. The clay is a mixture of porcelain and stone ware, and surfaces burnished and bisque fired, sanded and refined, followed by smoke firing in a sagger with various resists and combustibles. Pieces are fired to 840oC and then sanded and re-fired to 1050oC.
























Lara Scobie:

These pieces are slip-cast in parian clay. 'The theme of balance is a constant, significantly underlining my current work in which ideas of dynamic interplay between form and surface develop. By integrating drawing, surface mark making and volume I play with the balance of space and pattern alongside hue and texture on both the decorated and void surface areas. For me it is the balance between composition and form, absence and presence, that offers some of the most exciting opportunities for expressing my creative voice'.


































Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Ceramics at Montpellier




I always try to pop into Montpellier whenever we go to Stratford as they tend to have some interesting ceramic pieces. The problem is that they never indicate who the artist is so you have to ask about every piece, which gets tiresome after a while, particularly since quite often they do not know who the artist is. So, they have to look at the code of each piece which is written next to the price, then consult the book. It gets very frustrating and you end up feeling that you are being a nuisance. 

Here are some pieces that I particularly liked, but, with the exception of Sally MacDonell, whose work I recognise, I do not know who the artists are.



















Sally MacDonell