Artist Ellen Jewett refers to her sculptural work as “natural history surrealist sculpture,” a blend of plants, animals, and occasionally human-made structures or objects. Her artwork is deeply informed by an extensive background in anthropology, medical illustration, exotic animal care, and even stop-motion animation, all of which accentuate the biological structure of each piece, while freeing her imagination to pursue more abstract ideas.
Over time, Jewett has become more focused on minimizing materials and relying a negative space. “I find my sculptures are evolving to be of greater emotional presence by using less physical substance,” she shares. In addition, she eschews any potentially toxic mediums like paints, glazes, and finishes, opting to use more natural, locally-sourced materials. “This, unavoidably, excludes most of what is commonly commercially available, and has sent me on a journey of unique material combination and invention.” By employing these more uncommon materials, and leaving traces of fingerprints and other slight imperfections Jewett hopes her work leaves a more authentic impression.
You explore more of Ellen’s work on her website, and many of her pieces (some of which you see here) are available for purchase online.
These animal-filled porcelain bowls were meticulously crafted by hand and designed by Hella Jongerius for a commission by Nymphenburg, a Bavarian porcelain manufacture since the mid-18th century. The series was produced as a celebration of the animal collection found in their archives, and incorporates 3D creatures within the simple glazed bowls.
The ceramics display animals that look as if they have been temporarily and calmly placed upon the delicate bowls—curious foxes, birds, and miniature hippos happily plopped into their fragile environments. The displays are also hand painted with floral decorative patterns originally found on Nymphenburg’s cups and saucers, adding subtle detail to the glossed ceramic works. (via Jongeriuslab)
Created by Japanese design brand D-Bros (previously) these carefully hand-crafted coffee/tea mugs made from Hasami porcelain are painted with a thin layer of reflective palladium that allows each cup to mirror the saucer it rests on. D-Bros created many different geometric designs, some of which are available over at Spoon & Tamago.
Irish artist Nuala O’Donovan sculpts intricate hand-built porcelain forms that resemble fractal patterns found in nature. Borrowing from shapes found in coral, teasel flowers, and pinecones, O’Donovan examines not only patterns, but irregularities that arise from random or unexpected events. From her artist statement:
The result of using the characteristics of fractal geometry in making decisions regarding the form of the sculptural pieces, is that the form is resolved but retains a sense of potential change. The viewer engages with the piece by allowing their own visual experiences to influence their view of the outcome of the form and its future possibilities. I hope that this aspect of my work also evokes the transitory quality of living organisms, combining traces of history, the present and the future, in the patterns that make up their surfaces and forms.
Ai Weiwei, Blossom (2014). All photos by Jan Sturman
The Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei currently has an exhibition on Alcatraz, the notorious island used as a military fortress and federal penitentiary. Amongst a large body of work created specifically for Alcatraz is “Blossom,” which has been installed in several hospital ward cells and medical offices. And as its name suggests, intricately detailed encrustations of ceramic flowers are blossoming out of sinks, toilets and tubs that were once used by hospitalized prisoners.
The curator offers two possibilities in interpreting Ai’s porcelain blossoms: a symbolic offering of comfort to the imprisoned or perhaps an ironic nod to China’s famous Hundred Flowers Campaign of 1956. But to understand the piece we think this quote by Ai himself is all you really need: “The misconception of totalitarianism is that freedom can be imprisoned. This is not the case. When you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a windowsill.”
Ai Weiwei’s exhibition on Alcatraz will be open through April 26, 2015. (via My Amp Goes to 11)
German artist Evelyn Bracklow of La Philie has created an entire new collection of ant-covered porcelain dishes and tableware since we first shared her work here early this year. Many of the new pieces are part of a unique partnership between the artist, Rijks Museum in the Netherlands, and Etsy. The pieces are hand-painted in Bracklow’s studio, signed, numbered and fired to 160 degrees. As unsettling as having insects permanently invading your dinnerware is, I can’t help but be enchanted by how perfectly crafted they are. You can see more of Bracklow’s recent work here.
Ceramic artist Johnson Tsang (previously) created a pair of porcelain vases that when cut along the edges reveal the profiles of people. Smoosh two together and you have instant ceramic love. See more of Tsang’s process over on his blog, and if you liked this also check out the Profilograph by Pablo Garcia.