Art Craft Design
Traditional Design Meets Modern Function in Natura Ceramica’s Elemental Earthenware Vessels
Harnessing the rich, organic textures of soil, stone, and timber, Ukrainian artists Andriy and Olesya Voznicki of Natura Ceramica create voluminous ceramic vessels and sculptures. Based in Amsterdam, the duo draw inspiration from natural phenomena like the changing seasons, patinas and aging, and elements like fire or earth. The pieces mirror the shapes and textures of boulders or lava rock, suggesting both beauty and resiliency and influenced by a concept called bionic design, which mimics characteristics and adaptations in nature.
While many pieces are presented series—such as Gonta, which often features old oak shingles nestled into cushion-like clay forms—each piece is unique. “The inspiration for the vases comes from both ancient Carpathian architecture and modern bionic design,” reads a statement. “The use of old shingle roofs that have their own history adds a sense of nostalgia and a connection to the past.”
Find more on the Natura Ceramica website and Instagram.
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Thousands of Meticulously Layered Strips of Metal Bring Selçuk Yılmaz’s Big Cat Sculptures to Life
Thousands of thin, intricately placed metal strips form powerful wildlife portraits by Selçuk Yılmaz (previously). Adding new meaning to “big cats,” his recent series explores the legendary power, courage, and resilience of jaguars, lions, and the prehistoric saber-tooth tiger. A painstaking process of hammering, layering and welding individual pieces links realistic representation and the addition of artistic elements, such as the regal adornment on the forehead of the lion, which is titled “King.”
Minimal, abstracted contours delineate the form of Yılmaz’s saber-tooth tiger, a huge cat that roamed what is now North and South America for millennia until they became extinct about 10,000 years ago. Combining a realistic face with a simple outline, the artist draws attention to its snarling expression and the fact that we can only imagine what the early mammals actually looked like. In “Jaguar,” a lifelike portrayal of a muscular feline interacts with the light through layered textures. “Since light and metal have opposite properties, they can create an interesting balance and contrast when they come together,” the artist tells Colossal. “It gives the feeling that light has a soul.”
Find more of Yılmaz’s work on Instagram and Behance.
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Ceramic ‘Curiosity Clouds’ by Manifesto Celebrate the Natural World in Functional Organic Forms
The practice of assembling cabinets of curiosities, or Wunderkammers, may date back to the 16th century, but the human impulse to collect, document, study, and learn from our surroundings goes back millennia. Scottish artist Katie Rose Johnston, who works as Manifesto, celebrates the timeless pastime of collecting in her series Curiosity Clouds. Exploring ceramics at the intersection of art and history, she draws inspiration from natural phenomena and blurring the line between form and function.
Johnston was inspired to create the organic forms after a visit to The Hunterian in Glasgow, where she was fascinated by a vitrine tucked away in the rear of the museum. Displaying bird and insect nests from around the world, it included a cross-section of a termite mound featuring an elaborate network of compartments that the insects use for ventilation. “It was a really compelling form that mimicked a set of printer’s drawers in my mother’s home, which were filled with bits and bobs, mudlarked treasures, and our childhood crafts,” she tells Colossal. “The form of the dissected termite mound was really appealing, like a Wunderkammer from an alternate universe.”
The Curiosity Clouds are made using terracotta crank, a type of textured, groggy clay that is often used to make large, durable pots. Johnston forms each piece intuitively rather than relying on sketches, and she enjoys the way the material mimics the earthy, organic, meandering texture of the termite mounds. Always experimenting with different methods, she recently began incorporating materials found in the wild, like a slip coating made from clay gathered from her favorite beach. “It’s unseived to retain the small pebbles and roots which are elemental to the place they were found, and the clay is mica-rich and has a deep, metallic shimmer to the surface,” she says. “It’s rather magical.”
Johnston announces updates to the Manifesto shop every few months, with the next restock scheduled for August. You can find more of her work on her website, and follow updates or learn more about her process on Instagram.
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An Insightful Demonstration Recreates Donatello’s Marble Carving Technique
To coincide with the first major U.K. exhibition of works by the Renaissance great Donatello, the Victoria and Albert Museum released the latest addition to its How was it made? series, which explores the process behind some of art history’s most lauded pieces. The short video follows sculptor Simon Smith as he creates a scaled-down iteration of the 15th-century Prato Pulpit, a relief featuring dancing cherubs made for the Cathedral of Prato.
Referring to marble as “the emperor of all stones,” Smith draws a portion of the original work on a small block and explains the unique characteristics of the material as he carves. “It’s all about trapping shadows,” he says. “Carving is all about having deep cuts here and lighter here and the angle here and how the light plays on it. And certainly in relief because relief carving like this. It’s kind of halfway between sculpture and drawing.” While demonstrating how Donatello might have approached his work, Smith offers a compelling glimpse into how two artists’ techniques overlap and converge centuries apart.
Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance is on view through June 11 in London and includes Smith’s panel, which viewers are encouraged to touch. Find more about the demonstration on YouTube. (via Kottke)
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Dressed in Soft Cushions and Bulbous Garb, Colorful Personas Emerge from Frode Bolhuis’ Daily Sculpture Project
Bound with colorful cushions and twine, draped in chains of spheres, or sprouting a single leaf from their head, the characters that originate in Frode Bolhuis’s Almere studio embody the Dutch artist’s playful imagination and desire for experimentation. Part of an ongoing sculpture project, the expressive cast is currently comprised of 117 miniature figures made primarily of polymer clay with wood, fiber, and metal additions, each of which has a distinctive personality.
Bolhuis (previously) began the project with the intention of creating a new work each day, although he shares that in order to refine the characters’ features and fashion their garments, he’s more likely to complete two per week. While much of his process remains the same as when he began the project in February 2022, the artist is currently branching into textile design in collaboration with the studio Byborre and a loom in his studio. He shares about the evolution of the collection:
I don’t know if they get better but they continually find new forms, forms I didn’t know of before I started. It’s like I’m getting to know myself through the sculptures. It’s a wonderful paradox that the set form, size, and discipline give so much freedom. It really feels as if I can continue this forever and continually develop. It’s magic.
If you’re in Philadelphia, you can see a few of the artist’s works later this year as part of Hi-Fructose’s group exhibition at Arch Enemy Arts. Otherwise, find more of the whimsical personas on Instagram.
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Rick Salafia’s Wildly Shaped Aluminum Rulers Measure Impractical Proportions
With dramatically bowed edges, coiled shapes, and fragments jutting in opposite directions, Instruments by Rick Salafia defies many standards of measurement. The ongoing series, which currently comprises more than 200 works, disregards the one-foot rectangle in favor of a playfully diverse array of shapes. Semi-circles stretch like a croissant, ends expand into wide, asymmetric forms, and a segment stretching just a few inches breaks free from the rest of the metal tool. While the pieces in Instruments take on impractical shapes and proportions, the individual inked lines and numbers remain relatively uniform, evoking the systemized nature of a typical ruler.
Salafia produced each work in an edition of three and has some available in his shop. You can find more from the series on his site.
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Editor's Picks: Animation
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.