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.
Chinese artist Ah Xian lives and works in Sydney where for nearly two decades he has explored aspects of the human form using ancient Chinese craft methods including porcelain, lacquer, jase, bronze, and even concrete. The artist often uses busts of his own family members including his wife, brother, and father onto which he imprints traditional designs with a vivid cobalt blue glaze. Via Asia Society:
These sculptures by Ah Xian establish a series of multilayered oppositions. The most overt is the tension between the sculptural form of the bust and the painted surface designs, which the artist likens to the oppositions of West and East. The bust is part of a Western portraiture tradition dating back to the busts of ancient Roman times and the designs are derived from Chinese decorative traditions, unique to China and in some cases to the studio-kilns at Jingdezhen. Such an opposition can also be seen as the relationship between the personal (since many of the busts are of Ah Xian’s family, including his wife, brother, and father) and the political (a statement about the artist’s own Chinese heritage articulated outside China).
The works collected here are mostly from his Human Human and China China series, though you can see many more works on Craft Australia. (via I Need a Guide)
Parade is an interactive art installation concevied by ceramacist Laurent Craste and digital agency Dpt. for the Chromatic festival in Montreal. At first glance the piece looks rather mundane: two misshapen porcelain vases sit atop a pedestal inside a wood cube, lit from above by an industrial light. But move the light and suddenly the magic happens as shadows projected from the vases animate to life. What a fun piece.
Update: Of course things like this are never as simple as they appear. Dpt. explains further that the animated “shadows” are coming from a hidden projector which tracks the movements of the faux light source. We’ve been tricked! But I suppose that’s kind of the point.
As part of a new body of sculptural work, artist Jessica Harrison has created a series of delicate porcelain figurines depicting idealized women in ball gowns, with one glaring difference from the collectibles found in your grandmother’s curio: each sculpture is covered neck to wrist in ornate sailor tattoos. This juxtaposition is not unfamiliar territory for Harrison who has created other, much more macabre figures, in the past. The Scotland-based artst recently completed a practice-led PhD funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, where she researched the relationship between interior and exterior spaces of the body, an area of study that is directly reflected in her artwork. Via her artist statement:
Harrison proposes a multi-directional and pervasive model of skin as a space in which body and world mingle. Working with this moving space between artist/maker and viewer, she draws on the active body in both making and interpreting sculpture to unravel imaginative touch and proprioceptive sensation in sculptural practice. In this way, Harrison re-describes the body in sculpture through the skin, offering an alternative way of thinking about the body beyond a binary tradition of inside and outside.