Two new site-specific pieces by Courtney Mattison (previously) position ceramic sculptures of corals, sponges, and anemones in a swirling cluster of ocean diversity. Titled “Revolve” and “Our Changing Seas VII,” the wall reliefs are the latest additions to the Los Angeles-based artist’s body of work, which advocates for ecological preservation by highlighting the beauty and fragile nature of marine invertebrates.
In both installations, Mattison contrasts the vibrant, plump tentacles of healthy creatures with others sculpted in white porcelain to convey the devastating effects of the climate crisis, including widespread bleaching. Her recurring subject matter is becoming increasingly urgent, considering recent reports that estimate that 14 percent of the world’s coral population has been lost in the last decade alone.
Each of the lifeforms is hand-built and pocked with minuscule grooves and textured elements—she shares this meticulous process on Instagram—and once complete, the individual sculptures are assembled in sweeping compositions that radiate outward in shifting gradients. “Water connects us all, from the lush banks of Lawsons Fork Creek to the icy glaciers of the Arctic and glittering reefs of Southeast Asia. Life on Earth is dependent on healthy oceans,” she shares about “Revolve.” “The swirling design of this work is inspired by these connections and patterns, with revolving forms repeated in nature through hurricanes, seashells, ocean waves, and galaxies.”
Mattison’s solo exhibition Turn the Tide is on view at Highfield Hall & Gardens in Massachusetts through October 31 before it travels to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, where it will be through May 1, 2022. You explore a larger archive of the artist’s marine works on Behance and her site.
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Ohio-based artist Glen Taylor (previously) mends porcelain dinnerware with brutal bits of metal and soldering that starkly contrast their smooth, delicate counterparts. Lengths of rusted barbed wire bind two halves of a teacup, sharp spikes border a saucer painted with flowers, and mangled silverware is piled in messy assemblages reminiscent of dinner-party aftermath. In recent months, Taylor’s repaired interventions have grown in size and scope, from single-serving dishes patched with a pair of jeans to full-scale tables set for eight.
In a note to Colossal, the artist shares that he’s in the midst of preparing for an exhibition this fall, and you can keep an eye out for details about that show on Instagram.
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Melbourne-based artist Sally Kent visualizes the fleeting processes found in nature in her fragile porcelain pods. Cross-cut to reveal an inner seed, flower, or other fruitful organisms, the ceramic works compare the inner life-producing forms that are teeming with color and texture with their stark, smooth shells.
Each piece, which ranges from just a few inches to about a foot, is composed of individual patterns, whether through minuscule orbs or with thin strips of ceramic hung from the outer edges. This use of repetition is a form of embodiment, Kent says, because it evokes the cycles that produce and sustain all life, no matter the species or age. “Each pod begins with an egg form—an archetypal symbol of the cycle of life, death, and renewal, but it also acts as a shell to delineate and protect, albeit fragile, the seen (physical body) and the unseen (the spiritual and emotional world),” she shares.
If you’re in Sydney, you can see Kent’s Protection series, which includes human hands and busts embellished with mythological details, during the first weekend of August at House of Chu. Until then, dive into her process and see more of her hand-built works on Instagram.
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Artist Ming Lu melds multiple facets associated with Chinese culture in her delicate blue-and-white porcelain works. She utilizes traditional craft techniques to sculpt ubiquitous cultural symbols often found throughout the streets of Chinatown, encompassing both the Berlin-based artist’s broad cultural connections to her native country and more personal interactions.
In the three busts that comprise “Dialogue,” for example, Ming Lu transcribes conversations with her partner in calligraphic script. Titled “Reason,” “Trick,” and “Reaching a Station We’ll Never Reach,” the self-portraits embody a contemporary change in situation and perspective through a classic medium. Similarly, a trio of butchered ducks evokes the popular dish in form and are coated in a traditional floral motif, a cracked glaze, and characters depicting an old-fashioned spelling of “I love you.” Each of the birds strikes a balance between history and more contemporary culture, which Ming Lu describes:
It’s a funny experience when I first went to Chinatown and I saw these roast ducks hanging on the restaurant windows. We don’t do this in China, at least not in the cities I’ve been to. It’s a funny experience for me. And when you go to a museum, in the “China” (the country) section, you see many porcelains. It also represents China in a way as in history, especially in Ming and Qing dynasties, (porcelain) was one of the largest export commodities, so I put them together.
Ming Lu works across mediums, and you can see more of her sculptures, paintings, and embroideries on her site. Some of the pieces shown here on view through July 3 as part of her solo show Tigress, Tigress at BBA Gallery in Berlin and in a group exhibition running June 24 to 30 at Kühlhaus Berlin.
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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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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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