Only two years ago, Canterbury, U.K.-based artist Oliver Chalk began creating bold, geometric vessels out of wood. Having worked previously with fabric to design and produce large-scale installations for events, his interest in experimentation with new materials and techniques led to using found timber.
Carving detailed forms from the hulks of trees found in the local countryside of Kent, the artist considers the practice of turning and whittling sculptures to be a means of communication and an expression of self through symmetrical shapes and striations. The process of repetition often produces a state of mindfulness. “Imparting my mark through gouging hundreds, if not thousands, of seemingly arbitrary fissures by hand is a profoundly personal journey,” he tells Colossal.
The sustainability and local sourcing of the materials is an important part of Chalk’s approach. All of the wood he gathers comes from native species that he collects from local arborists or forages close to his workshop, finding cuts from trees that have been felled by storms or are partly decaying. The shapes he chips into each piece reflect a merging of nature and the human-made. “Being self-taught, I am still very much listening and learning about the material,” he says. In each vessel, he highlights the natural gradations of color, growth rings, knots, and fissures, emphasizing the relationship between organic form and geometric precision.
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Nestled within polka-dotted expanses, stripes, and leafy motifs are Sandra Apperloo’s miniature faces. The quirky characters with pointed noses, freckles, and tiny, black eyes are part of the Utrecht-based ceramicist’s line of Weirdo Bud Vases, which are just wide enough to hold a stem or two within their tall, slim bodies. To create each piece, Apperloo (previously) hand-builds the rounded vessel, slip-casts facial features and arm-like handles, and finally, paints strands of hair and colorful patterns. The playful ceramics tend to sell out quickly, so you’ll want to keep an eye on her Instagram for announcements about shop updates. The next release is slated for April 10.
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Takeout Containers and Worn Sketchbooks by Artist Yoonmi Nam Explore the Permanence of Everyday Disposables
A kitchen table, countertop, or cluttered desk are all likely spots to encounter a piece by South Korean artist Yoonmi Nam. Encompassing ceramic sculptures and sparse lithographs, Nam’s body of work evokes “an ever-present, yet always changing still life,” one that displays the ubiquitous objects of her everyday in more permanent forms. A deep well to hold a bouquet carves out a stack of porcelain take-out containers, minimal prints depict a leafy branch resting in a fast-food cup, and splayed sketchbooks are covered with graph paper-style inlays that appear punctured, leaving frayed ends and stray lines.
Nam’s subject matter, whether a disposable container or notebook with a cracked cover, always has a limited lifespan, a recurring theme that tethers each of the works to questions about ephemerality and value. The artist elaborates in a statement:
I am drawn to man-made spaces and objects that we surround ourselves with, especially when they subtly suggest a contradicting sense of time that seems both temporary and lasting. In the arranged flower imagery, the flowers, once cut from their roots, have only a short remaining time to live. They will quickly wither and die, but before they do, they are elegantly and elaborately arranged, as if time will stand still for them. The containers that hold them are disposable objects, such as a yogurt cup, a Styrofoam take-out box, and an instant noodle bowl. These throwaway objects and cut flowers engage in a dialogue that speaks about impermanence and persistence.
Nam has a few ceramic pieces and lithographs available from Paradigm Gallery in Philadelphia, and some of her new delivery box-inspired sculptures are on view as part of 2021 Kansas City Flatfile + Digitalfile, which runs through October 14 at the Kansas City Art Institute. You also can explore a larger selection of her works on Instagram.
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Sandra Apperloo infuses her love for pastels and tiny freckles into a playful crew of characters. Shaped to hold a single flower stem, the anthropomorphized vases display a range of emotions and together, form a series humorously named Weirdo Bud Vases. Their lengthy bodies are covered in polka dots, floral motifs, and stripes, and while some stand straight up, others twist around a similarly dressed figure. “I hope my works make people laugh and daydream. I hope they distract from daily businesses, leave warm feelings, and tickle imaginations,” she writes.
Based in the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands, Apperloo works under the moniker The Pottery Parade and creates planters, mugs, bowls, and other vessels through a mix of hand-building and wheel-based techniques. She doesn’t plan each piece in advance, instead favoring a method that involves “finding what feels good at that moment. This is the case for every part of the process: shaping, sculpting, choosing the colors, and painting the patterns. It helps me to stay open-minded and try out new things, which I feel is really important in my work,” she says.
To snag one of her pieces, which includes a forthcoming series of holiday ornaments, follow Apperloo on Instagram, where she often shares announcements about shop updates.
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Stacked Chevron, Multi-Colored Stripes, and Ornamental Motifs Detail Frances Priest’s Meticulous Ceramics
Based in Edinburgh, artist Frances Priest merges stripes, chevron, and asanoha designs into impeccably complex motifs. Generally utilizing bold color palettes, Priest’s hand-built vases and bowls begin with sketches on paper before being transferred to test slabs of clay. The artist says she treats “the surface much like a sheet of paper,” as she inscribes each vessel using scalpels, patterns, and aluminum stamps.
The entirety of the piece is enveloped in the surface design so the works appear to wrapped in, or constructed out of pattern. I think it is a real treat to pick up an object and find that the base has been treated with the same care as the rest of the work, it makes the form complete and also allows for the group works to be re-arranged into different compositions.
Much of her intricate work is derived from The Grammar of Ornament by British architect Owen Jones, which her father gifted her as a child. The classic text focuses on ornamental design spanning multiple regions and periods. “I can distinctly remember spending hours as a child tracing the designs with my fingers, leafing from page to page and absorbing the visual languages on display,” Priest said in a statement. Her most recent vases from her Grammar of Ornament series directly reference the marble and tile mosaics found in the book’s Byzantine section, the artist tells Colossal.
Priest, though, doesn’t limit herself to representing only singular styles or eras. Her ongoing Gathering Places project serves as a collection “extracted from my sketchbook and collaged together into my own new designs—parquet, tiles, parasols, and swags. I use the title gathering places for all the half-sphere vessel forms because they are just that, places to gather together collections of decorative motifs,” she says. For example, “Architekten” is based on stark angles in buildings by the architecture firm Saurebruch Hutton, in addition to the natural foliage she discovered in illustrations of Vienna’s Villa Primavesi.
If you head to Instagram, you’ll find more of Priest’s elaborate ceramics, in addition to a coloring book she created that’s free to download.
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Ilex Studio’s avocado and acorn vases give new trees a head start while adding some greenery to your interior space. Riffing on the age-old technique of using crossed toothpicks or grilling skewers to balance sprouting plants over water, the uniquely shaped glass vessels are comprised of a large, flat-bottomed bulb topped with a smaller open-topped “cup”. The top holds the seed while keeping it dry, and the neck and water-filled base below allow roots to expand. Once the young tree has sufficiently sprouted and is ready to be planted in soil, the Ilex vase can help another one take root. The vases are available on Ilex’s website. (via Design Milk)
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Editor's Picks: History
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