Hyperrealistic Ceramic Sculptures by Christopher David White Mimic the Splintered Texture of Decaying Wood
In his Richmond studio, artist Christopher David White (previously) practices an alchemy of materials as he transforms slabs of clay into deceptive sculptures and functional objects that appear carved from hunks of decaying wood. His trompe l’oeil ceramics are fragile depictions of the hardy material, complete with its gnarled knots and splintered edges in various states of decomposition.
To achieve such a hyperrealistic finish, each piece undergoes multiple rounds of detailing—head to Instagram for a glimpse behind-the-scenes—which White starts by shaping the initial form with knots and branches and imprinting large grooves for the grain. After the work dries slightly, dental instruments, wire brushes, and Xacto knives aid in crafting the more intricate components, and the slightly dehydrated material lends itself to natural cracks and divots that enhance the woody texture. Once fired, the artist paints each sculpture with a largely neutral palette of acrylics.
White continues to explore humans’ relationship to the environment in both his figures and smaller works, although he’s recently shifted to more overt considerations of the topic. “I seek to highlight humanity’s abuse and disregard for nature along with the contradictions in our actions,” he says. “Humans have a tendency to acknowledge the beauty, fragility, and uniqueness of nature while simultaneously viewing it as a resource to be endlessly exploited, controlled, and discarded.”
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It’s easy to mistake Irma Gruenholz’s whimsical ceramic figures for two-dimensional illustrations. The Madrid-based artist (previously) is known for her sculptures and still lifes in clay that resemble flat graphics and drawings, although her works require precise positioning and photographing before they’re printed in the pages of a magazine or children’s book.
In addition to working on commissions for major publications and brands in the last few years, Gruenholz’s most recent projects include four imaginative figures tattooed with foliage and sprouting leafy branches from their heads. “During Covid lockdown, I have had time to reflect and realize how important it is to respect your internal rhythm when you are creating,” she says. “I think there has to be another way of living, a slow life good for the people and for the planet.”
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At once minimal and endlessly confounding, the elegant ceramic vessels that Matthew Chambers (previously) creates are precisely scaled iterations of the same shape. His hypnotic sculptures are comprised of individual, wheel-thrown pieces in varying sizes that are embedded within a larger form. Each abstract work is unique in color and position, sometimes displaying single monochromatic rings at incongruent angles or striped colors flush in alignment.
In a note to Colossal, Chambers says his most recent pieces are an experiment in allowing the inner pattern to pop from the outer vessel. “The process is essentially the reverse of how most of my other forms are made, and it’s still very much in the early stages of working it out,” he says. “I’ve also started making some upright vessel forms where the circles twist around the outside of the form from top to bottom, but again these are still very much in the early stages.”
Chambers, who’s based in St. Lawrence on the Isle of Wight, has amassed an extensive archive in the last few years, which you can dive into on his site and Instagram. If you’re in London., you can see some of his pieces on view now at Alveston Fine Art and this February with Cavaliero Finn at Collect Art Fair. He’ll also show works this coming July at Cornwall’s New Craftsman Gallery.
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Kent-based ceramicist Kate Malone mimics the plaited texture of a basket with her series of woven vessels. The wide-mouthed vases and small, covered boxes are wrapped in rolled strips of clay that the artist threads through small gashes in the surface of the pot. Long, vertical bars structure the braided effect, which wraps horizontally around each form. “Initially inspired by passementerie, baskets, and all things woven, for this series, I intended to imitate a woven surface on my ceramics. My practice is to create a core shape, then decorate the surface,” she says.
Malone tells Colossal that she gravitates toward crystalline glazes in greens, blues, and a warm honey tone, although she’s started to incorporate bright base materials in her most recent pieces. “These glazes tend to run down the surface and combine, which prevents the creation of neat horizontal lines, so the pre-colored clays are an attempt to keep surface color in place,” she says.
In addition to the twisted pieces shown here, Malone’s body of work comprises ceramic pieces in a variety of textures and shapes, which you can see at Adrian Sasson where she is represented. Head to Instagram for a look at her studio and a deeper dive into her practice.
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Birmingham, U.K.-based artist Zoë Hillyard revitalizes shattered vases and bowls by melding traditional craft techniques. She wraps a mishmash of vintage silks and fabrics around individual ceramic shards, binding the broken pieces with tightly stitched thread. Appearing glazed with antique florals and other ornate motifs, the patchwork forms contrast the original shape of the pottery with the newly mended exterior, a reconfigured finish that’s commonly disrupted by missing pieces and jagged edges.
Gathering the source materials from ceramicists’ reject piles or by receiving broken family heirlooms for commissions, Hillyard works with the initial shape and purpose in mind. She says:
Like archaeological treasures, they display imperfections in the form of holes and irregularity, and all the more interesting for them. Each piece is unique in terms of the combinations of materials used, the pattern of breakage, the impact of colour and print and aesthetic decisions made during reconstruction.
Hillyard’s body of work is replete with metaphorical and physical tension and contrast between the old and new. Although the pieces appear delicate and light like the fabrics that envelop their sides, they retain the heftiness and weight of clay and are warmer to the touch than a porcelain vessel, for example. “Most surprisingly, they often have a subtle flex, disconcerting when contrasted with traditional ‘solid’ forms of ceramic repair,” the artist shares. “I enjoy these ambiguities, with the work challenging expectations and conventional definitions.”
In addition to her practice, Hillyard teaches textile design at Birmingham City University. She currently has pieces at Contemporary Applied Arts in London and will show new works in June 2022 at The Pool House Gallery in Gloucestershire. Until then, explore more of her process and mended projects on Instagram. (via Women’s Art)
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Meticulous Sculptures by Artist Carol Long Highlight the Curved Lines and Colorful Embellishments Found in Nature
Honoring the humble shape of the vessel is at the center of Carol Long’s practice. From her studio in rural Kansas, the artist throws simple ceramic cylinders that she contorts into supple butterfly wings, curved chrysalises, or vases with embellished handles.“When it comes off the potter’s wheel, that’s just the beginning,” she tells Colossal. “I usually sit for a second and look at the piece and see which way I can push it out or in.”
The resulting forms are evocative of both flora and fauna and traditional pottery, although Long’s sculptures emphasize smooth, sinuous walls and squiggly bases rather than angled edges. She uses slip trailing to add tactile decorative elements to the piece like small spheres, handles, or raised linework. “The relationship between the glazes that are inside the vectors, the shapes made by the slip trailing, are really important in how they’re divided and how they sit next to each other,” she says, noting that the process is particularly meticulous because it involves applying the material to each intricate, ribbed pattern and delicate outline.
Whether a vase or wide-mouthed jar, the whimsical sculptures are brimming with color and textured details. “I love the flowing lines, and I love the idea of framing a picture on my pots. A lot of times I have a focal point like an animal or insect and then I’ve framed it with other designs,” the artist says.
Long is hosting an annual open house at her studio next month and will show a body of work at Charlie Cummings Gallery in July of 2022. Until then, shop available pieces on Etsy—she also has an update slated for mid-December—and follow her latest pieces on Instagram. (via Women’s Art)
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