Stockholm-based ceramicist Caroline Harrius (previously) embroiders vases with floral patterns that explore the relationships between gender and craft and decoration and purpose. Distorting perceptions, the delicate pieces appear as though Harrius wrapped stitched fibers around a glazed vessel, or in a parallel manner, sculpted fabric to mimic a curved form.
Harrius punctures the shiny, semi-functional vases with holes and then pulls through threads to produce patterns and floral motifs that explore gender norms and hierarchies in craft history, specifically focusing on those typically associated with women. Her works reevaluate artistic techniques as she takes both pottery and embroidery out of their traditional contexts, combines, and then reimagines them, stretching the boundary of each craft. This results in unexpected pieces that prompt viewers to question perception and textures (i.e. whether a ceramic could “feel” soft and fibrous like fabric or whether a needle and thread are robust enough to puncture through clay.)
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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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People’s Pottery Project (PPP) has a simple mission: “to empower formerly incarcerated women, trans, and nonbinary individuals and their communities through the arts.” The value of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit, though, reaches far beyond the ceramics studio where its members carefully sculpt and glaze dinnerware to sell from its warehouse.
At the heart of PPP is mutual aid, a form of community support and solidarity that rapidly expanded at the onset of the pandemic but that has a rich history in political movements. The initiative is multi-faceted—it currently employs three people full-time and two part-time, and formerly incarcerated folks can drop in to help in the production process and be paid for their contributions. Depending on COVID-19 guidance and the ability to meet in-person, PPP also hosts community classes. As restrictions lift in the coming months, the organization plans to expand these offerings as it strives to stabilize its income and connect with more artists.
The project began when co-founder Molly Larkey hosted free pottery workshops for women, trans, and non-binary folks, many of whom were experiencing homelessness. “It was immediately apparent that people who came to class needed to be paid for their time: not only to value their creative contribution toward the organization that was starting to take form but as a way to put money in their pockets,” Larkey says. Many of the gatherings simultaneously sparked conversations about job opportunities and housing options, which offered additional support beyond the group’s creative practice.
Two attendees in these early days were Ilka Perkins and her wife, Dominique, women Larkey knew through her volunteer efforts with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, an organization that works tirelessly to have people who are incarcerated be released through commutation, parole board support, and legislative reform. Larkey offered Perkins a job as an artist assistant prior to Perkins’ release from the California Institution for Women in 2020. Soon after, the two co-founded PPP.
Today, the organization sells 10-inch plates and bowls in three sizes—every item is made entirely by hand so the pale blues and earthen tones vary on each dish—with plans to create new products and special packaging that details the issues communities are facing. These include DROP LWOP (Drop Life Without the Possibility of Parole) and SURVIVED & PUNISHED, two abolitionist campaigns that current PPP employee Susan Bustamante, who previously was serving a life sentence, is involved in.
Many of the fully functional ceramics are sold for $50, a price point that aligns with PPP’s goals. The idea is “to share our beauty and creativity, to employ as many formerly incarcerated people as we can in meaningful creative work and make our ceramics accessible to anyone and everyone,” Larkey says. “We are hopeful that our art will also function as advocacy so that people learn more about the issues affecting us and our loved ones who are still incarcerated.”
As for future endeavors, Larkey is optimistic about the possibilities of artists getting involved in mutual-aid efforts as a way to support their neighbors. “There is a real need for creative skills but the most important thing—and I can’t stress this enough—is to be involved with a community over a period of time,” she says. “The groundwork has been already laid by the people most impacted by systemic oppressions such as the prison industrial complex, and they will be the ones who know what is most needed.”
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Spanish street artist Manolo Mesa merges public and private spheres through large-scale murals that highlight simple domestic objects. The multiple-story artworks depict traditional dining scenes, from an elegant porcelain tea set to a lone jug with swirling flourishes to another vessel resting on a saucer.
To complete a recent tableau in Oviedo, Spain, for Parees Fest, Mesa explored the history of an abandoned pottery factory in San Claudio. Event organizers gathered tableware from local residents, a collection that informed the shapes and exterior motifs of his work. “I was able to see all the evolution of this earthenware in the houses of Oviedo. I found postwar pieces, which were inherited and preserved with great affection by collectors. We saw (the) tableware of a lifetime from the middle of the century,” he writes on Instagram. Showcasing a delicate collection of vessels, the resulting mural explores an otherwise hidden facet of local history.
Find Mesa on Instagram to view some works-in-progress and follow his ceramic-centric projects.
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Japanese ceramicist Yuta Segawa plays with scale and color in his multitudes of miniature vessels. Each hand-thrown pot and vase is crafted with the same attention to structure and detail that a full-sized piece would have, from the tidy foot to the gracefully shaped neck. Segawa also formulates his own glazes, with five hundred under his belt so far.
To accentuate the small size and complementary colors of his ceramics, Segawa often displays the vessels in long, neat rows, or arranges them in a scattered formation that shifts between warm and cool tones. Segawa describes the intention behind his work in a statement on his SGW Studio website: “Miniature pottery relates to the issue of the relationship between artists’ bodies and their works. It is a challenge to test the limits of what a human body can make on such a small scale.”
In addition to his pint-sized pottery, the London-based artist also experiments with using his feet and tongue in place of his hands to shape pots, a technique he refers to as “body throwing“, and glazes mountainous piles of collapsed vessels that send up the notion of ceramics as functional vessels. Pick up a tiny pot of your own in Segawa’s online store, and watch the making-of in the video below. Segawa also shares updates on in-progess and completed pieces on Instagram. If you enjoy Segawa’s work, also check out Jon Almeda.
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