Ceramic Figurines by Claire Partington Put a Contemporary Twist on Historical Symbols
Citing traditional portraiture and figurative ceramics, London-based artist Claire Partington (previously) sculpts grand characters with a dose of contemporary wit: Lavishly outfitted women lose their heads to anthropomorphized octopuses, a flip flop-wearing fairy dozes alongside empty beer bottles, and sneakers and a cellphone lie next to “Sleeping Beauty.” Infused with mythological symbols and references to folklore, the delicate figurines meld history and culture across time periods and prompt questions about interpretation and narrative.
Many of the pieces shown here are included in Partington’s solo exhibition En Plein Air, which is on view from February 2 to March 19 at Winston Wächter Fine Art in Seattle and coincides with the release of Historical Fiction, a monograph spanning ten years of her career. Until then, explore more of her subversive figures on her site and Instagram.
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Winter In The Rainforest: Porcelain Characters Navigate the Amazon in a Surreal Stop-Motion Short
In Anu-Laura Tuttelberg’s stop-motion short “Winter In The Rainforest,” time passes at an unusual pace. The Estonian writer, director, and animator (previously) sets a cast of fragile, porcelain puppets within the lush rainforests of Chiapas, Mexico, and the Peruvian Amazon, a contrast of real and manufactured that grounds the surreal story. Throughout the film, carnivorous flowers trap their prey, an articulate grasshopper climbs a tree, and a miniature girl wakes from a stupor at a clip that’s wildly different from their timelapsed surroundings, which are evident through leaves shaking in the wind and shadows rolling across the landscape at a quickened tempo.
Shot with 16-millimeter film, the grainy short is years in the making—Tuttelberg details the process on her site—and blurs the boundaries between the imagined and real in both material and narrative. Rather than create an illusion of the characters occupying the tropical ecosystem in a lifelike manner, each element progresses at its own speed. She explains:
While moving the puppets frame by frame, I let the light and the nature in the background move naturally. In this way, the puppets are moving smoothly in their own pace and the nature around them is changing rapidly. This creates a new obscure reality of time and space in the film. It keeps the viewer aware of the stop motion technique in the film. I don’t want to hide the animation technique behind the scene but rather to bring it out and observe the new strange reality it creates.
“Winter In The Rainforest” has already won numerous festival awards, and Tuttelberg tells Colossal she’s working on a sequel titled “On Weary Wings Go By,” which brings the same cast to the frigid beaches of Estonia and Norway. You can keep an eye out for that project, and watch the animator’s previous works, on Vimeo.
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Hundreds of Hand-Sculpted Flowers and Leaves Envelop Porcelain Vessels by Artist Hitomi Hosono
Japanese artist Hitomi Hosono (previously) translates the billowing leaves of an underwater plant or the clusters of Hawthorn tree flowers into intricate sculptural assemblages devoid of their natural colors. The monochromatic bowls and vases appear to sprout incredibly detailed botanicals that Hosono layers in tight wraps and dense bunches, and while stylized in presentation, each form is derived from hours of research and observation of real specimens.
Currently living in London, Hosono draws on memories of her home in Gifa Prefecture to inform much of her work, and she allows the medium itself to dictate her practice. While some of the botanical forms are inspired by specific encounters with the environment like walks through the city’s parks, others are spontaneous and spurred by a hunk of material already evocative of a leaf or petal. “When handling the porcelain clay itself, then my old memories of nature in Japan come flooding back through my hands—abstract and uncertain when it was in my mind. Kneading, brushing, patting, carving, there are many processes before the shape emerges from the porcelain clay and begins to take the form of my tactile memory,” she explains.
In a note to Colossal, Hosono says she’s been interested lately in combining small florals with larger foliage, a contrast evident in “A Tall Peony and Leaves Vase” and “A Tall Tsutsuji Tower.” She describes the process for the latter:
This flower is so much a part of my childhood memories; we had Tutsuji in our home garden, at school, along the street, nearby parks, almost everywhere in Japan. Making the delicate tip of the Tsutsuji petal is challenging. I use a very small fine brush to curl the end of each petal. This must be done slowly and gently as the ends become incredibly fragile. Then I assemble the petals by hand to make each flower and place these one-by-one.
No matter the size, every element is hand-sculpted and arranged with similar pieces into a floret or layered onto the larger vessel, which typically takes a year or more to complete.
Hosono is currently represented by Adrian Sassoon, where you can explore more of her most recent works, and follow her on Instagram to stay up-to-date with her practice.
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Shattered Porcelain Fragments Are Elegantly Bonded in Kintsugi Sculptures by Yeesookyung
Seoul-based artist Yeesookyung (previously) fuses Korean and Japanese craft traditions in her elegant, gilded sculptures. Blending ornately patterned vessels with deities and animals, the delicate assemblages meld shards of discarded ceramic into new forms with bulbous sides, halved figures, and drips of metallic epoxy. Utilizing fragments from previous works references the Korean tradition of discarding porcelain with small irregularities, while the visibly repaired crevices draw on Kintsugi techniques, the Japanese art of highlighting the beauty of broken vessels with thick, gold mendings.
Part of Yee’s ongoing Translated Vase series that has amassed hundreds of works since it began in 2002, the celadon pieces shown here were part of the artist’s solo exhibition titled I am not the only one but many, which was on view last fall at Massimo De Carlo. In a statement about her latest additions, she describes her fractured sculptures:
To me, a piece of broken ceramic finds another piece, and they come to rely on one another. The usage of gold in the cracks between them is related to the Korean language, for which the pronunciation of the word ‘gold’ and ‘crack’ sounds the same as ‘Geum.’ Indeed, the shapes of the vases present entirely organic forms which exist out of an innate and sensorial élan.
For more of Yee’s exquisite assemblages, visit her site and Instagram.
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Hundreds of Ceramic Marine Creatures Radiate in Gradients to Show the Effects of Coral Bleaching
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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Unruly Metals and Barbs Repair Broken Porcelain Dinnerware by Glen Taylor
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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Editor's Picks: Animation
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