Thin ribbons of porcelain ripple across the surfaces of Alice Walton’s abstract sculptures. Gently sloped domes and pillars are covered in countless individual strips, which vary in thickness and length and add irregular texture and depth to the finished pieces. “Every mark I make, whether this be a tool mark or a fingerprint, are preserved in the firing and are not covered or coated or inhibited by a glaze,” the artist writes. “I want the viewer to be able to look at my sculptures from afar and to have one perception of the surface (and) then want to explore closer. On a nearer inspection, the surface decoration reveals layers of multiple colours and time spent through process.”
Focusing on the meditative qualities of repetition, Walton combines pastels and vibrant Earth tones to evoke the sights of her surrounding environment and travels. “The vividly painted sun-bleached street walls and the monsoon-drenched temples, to me, instantly resembled the dry powdery palette of coloured clays,” she shares about a visit to Rajasthan, India. Her choices in pigment still revolve around what she sees on a daily basis—these range from old maps to the seasonal landscapes nearby her studio in Somerset, U.K.—that result in undulating stripes or bold gradients composed with more than 40 colors in “Clements Shade.”
At the 2019 British Ceramics Biennial, Walton was awarded a residency with Wedgwood, where she’s currently working on a new series of sculptural vessels made from the English company’s traditional Jasper clay. Those pieces will be shown at the 2021 biennial in September. She’ll also have work at London’s Chelsea Design Centre from June 22 to 29 and at MAKE Hauser & Wirth Somerset in November. Until then, explore more of her sculptures on her site and Instagram. (via Seth Rogan)
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Bulging hunks of glaze and smooth, speckled drips flow from Brian Rochefort’s chunky ceramic sculptures. The Los Angeles-based artist continues his signature abstract style in a newer series of paint cans and oozing vessels, many of which resemble the crusty remnants of volcanic eruptions. Rochefort builds each piece from a combination of clay, glaze, and glass fragments through multiple rounds of firing in the kiln. The final assemblages are literally overflowing with speckles, gloopy lumps, and delicately cracked patches all layered in a kaleidoscope of color and texture.
In a note to Colossal, the artist describes his process as multi-faceted with a diverse array of influences that range from visual to intellectual and historical. The most important, though, are from travel and experiences outside of his studio or gallery spaces. “My work is generated from numerous trips to remote areas in Latin America and Africa such as the Bolivian Amazon, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. I think of myself as an authentic abstract artist and place importance behind the criticality of experiencing these environments in person,” he says.
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Sophie Cook sculpts delicate porcelain into teardrops, bottles, and pods with swollen bases and long bowed necks. Often evoking the colors of the Suffolk landscape surrounding her studio, the elegant vessels have smooth exteriors coated in matte and glossy glazes that range from coral to graphite and sage. The pieces vary in height and width and are designed to be displayed in groups as “a three-dimensional still life,” she says in a statement.
Cook’s practice is meticulous and regimented—watch the short video below to see her at the wheel—and frequently results in loss, which she describes:
Every piece is a challenge to make as porcelain is such a fluid medium on the wheel. I throw four pieces a day, which are left to dry for two days and are then carved to refine the shape. Once sprayed they dry for a week. It is an incredibly delicate process. Rarely, if ever, do all four pieces survive the carving and firing processes.
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Artist Chrystl Rijkeboer contemporizes sentimental porcelain figurines with a present-day twist: spiky COVID-19 molecules obscure the characters’ facial features, rendering the largely wealthy and ornately dressed figures both anonymous and commonplace in modern contexts.
Whether posing for a portrait or mid-curtesy, Rijkeboer’s pieces satirize the long-crafted Meissen figurines, which have been in production since the 18th Century and often romanticize an antiquated world “where women do not represent any relevance but being nice and glamourous,” she tells Colossal. “For me, it is mostly about the position as a woman and an artist. The pandemic made it quite clear that artists are the first to be labeled as unnecessary.”
Living and working in Haarlem, The Netherlands, Rijkeboer has crafted an extensive COVID-themed collection, which includes ubiquities like Zoom calls and masks, all of which you can see on her site. (via Lustik)
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Hessa Al Ajmani (previously) carefully imprints single flowers, leaves, and fronds into her ceramic dinnerware. After hand-building a piece, the artist assembles bunches of small plants native to the United Arab Emirates and presses them into layered bouquets on mugs, plates, and serving dishes. Al Ajmani then paints the impressions to mimic the original florals that she sources from the nearby desert and occasionally from her mother’s garden, a practice dictated by the climate and time of year. “My work naturally takes a whole season to prepare and/or relies on the occasional winter rainfall,” she says. “I allow it to grow organically and see it as a collaboration with nature. After all, clay itself is a material of the earth.”
In addition to creating an array of functional pieces, Al Ajmani teaches virtual and in-person workshops at Clay Corner Studio, which she founded in Ajman in 2019. Follow her on Instagram to keep an eye on new releases in her shop.
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Prior to sculpting the prickly lifeforms that comprise her Marine Abstracts series, Marguerita Hagan plunged into the waters surrounding the Cayman Islands to get a glimpse of the coral and sponges inhabiting the region. “My research is important to my work, whether from seeing firsthand like diving, which manifested the sponge and coral-inspired Marine Abstracts, or visiting labs and working with my scientist friends,” the Philadelphia-based artist says. “I am passionate about learning, and I immerse myself into the life of each piece/species.”
Mimicking the porous bodies of the aquatic creatures, the resulting works are amorphous in shape and hand-built in sweeping gestures from low-fire clay. Hagan subjects the ceramic forms to anywhere between three and eight rounds of firing in the kiln before they’re airbrushed with pastel glazes. Pocked with holes and covered in tiny bristles arranged with meticulous precision, each piece can take months to complete.
When presented in a gallery space, Hagan contextualizes many of her works by pairing them with animated projections, creating holistic installations that situate individual sculptures within a larger ecosystem. It’s a way to generate conversation about interdependence and the need to protect these fragile forms, the artist says, explaining the concept further:
Microscopic marine organisms form the basis of all life on our planet and connect in exquisite systems or colonies. These one-cell plankton gems, our primary producers provide over 50% of the oxygen for the planet with light from the sun. Rich diversity and reciprocal sharing power thriving communities and environments. This light-giving flow has enabled all life to thrive for eons…We are in a time of epic shifts and are responsible for the changes needed now. The work intends to uplift spirits, awareness, renewable action and timely sustainable investments for all life.
You can see many of the abstracted pieces shown here, alongside dozens of Hagan’s sculptures, as part of Biospheres, which is on view both in-person and virtually at HOT•BED in Philadelphia through May 8. For a larger collection of the artist’s works, check out her site and Instagram.
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