The most creative ceramicists and visionaries around
Ceramicists; Rules Are Made To Be Broken
Penny Byrne, the Melbourne artist subverting kitsch ceramics. Penny Byrne is of course no ordinary fixer of priceless porcelain. As she puts the last of her ‘day job’ pieces back into a storage unit, that ‘separates’ her professional lives, Byrne has an errant glint in her eye. The danger sign that reads “demolition work in progress” seems an apt indicator of a secret second life.
Let us move back in time briefly: Penny’s alter ego dates back a decade, mother having handed over some broken porcelain ballerinas from her antiques shop some time earlier – “think you can do something with this?” A pretty straightforward question to a daughter who had studied ceramic and glass conservation and restoration at Chichester’s esteemed West Dean College. Penny’s response would be anything if straightforward.
The infamous Easey Street murders having long cast a cult shadow over the street in which Penny Byrne’s studio resides, a shared studio space with artists who were submitting works to the city’s 2004 Fringe Festival. Murder on Easey Street presented an opportunity for Byrne to show work of her own, work that expressed her identity, a respite from restoration.
Anna Barlow’s ice cream sculptures offer a slice of summer. Fascinated by food, the way we eat, and the rituals of treats and indulgence; artist Anna Barlow exercises dexterous ceramics-wizardry to create these stunningly original sculptures from clay, porcelain and glaze. Capturing the evocative, fleeting moments of melting ice creams on a summer’s day, the pieces evoke tastes, memories and contemplations.
The textures Barlow has achieved are magical, the biscuity wafers and trickling ice cream and sauce quite simply leave you salivating – if not foaming at the mouth, over her remarkable creations.
X+Q Art, Beijing duo exploring the boundaries of art and gifts. The idea of art as gifts is one that has prompted Beijing artists Xian Jing and Qu Guangci to recreate their work, produced under the moniker X+Q Art, in present-friendly, limited edition form.
Making art accessible to the general public in both monetary and practical terms is the central tenet of the project, and with celebrity fans like Cartier and Elton John behind them, X+Q should be doing a roaring trade as the big day looms.Their work is cute, retaining a traditionally Chinese feel but with a healthy injection of humour and surrealism.
Sheryo and The Yok disturbing Traditions. Sheryo and The Yok should have your attention. The duo have been collaborating for over a year both stateside and on the road, drawing inspiration from their ventures. Brooklyn has adopted them as its own and is their current studio locale.
Pipe Dreams is the highly anticipated efforts from the pair hosted by the Lower East Side’s, Krause Gallery. This is Sheryo and The Yok’s first solo show stateside. A narrative of time spent In Asia, Mexico and the duo’s life in NYC; their work is heavily inspired by global mischief, comedic antics and a shared appreciation of belonging to nowhere, skateboarding, spray and hot dogs. Both artist’s distinct styles connect seamlessly, though simultaneously stand alone.
Krause showcased an impressive collection of high-end wares they produced, reflecting a twisted vision of traditional folklore. A trip to Hanoi in Northern Vietnam resulted in exploration of hand-painted ceramics, inspired by the ancient factories that have been rooted in porcelain for centuries, the artists decided to experiment in this medium for their own work.
Katharine Morling an Extra Dimension. Katharine Morling’s work is so good, it’s confusing. That is, it takes a moment for the brain to put together exactly what’s going on. At least my brain anyway. She describes what she does as three dimensional drawings in ceramic, and that’s bang on the money; life-sized pencil drawings that come to life, lifted from the page with consummate skill in Morling’s Deptford studio. So how does the magic happen?
Things begin with some quick drawings, based on feelings and experiences, to get a raft of ideas down on paper, before a couple are selected for further development. More detailed drawings follow, until one grabs the artist’s imagination sufficiently to warrant the next stage.
The nature of her subjects make their ceramic construction tricky, and Morling researches the shapes carefully, planning the internal structure and temporary external supports needed. From there on in it’s clay, a couple of simple tools, and pure talent. The work is intricate and time-consuming. The studio has up to three assistants working alongside Morling herself, but the results of their efforts are certainly worth the trouble.
Eyal Burstein Alumni honours late pottery designer with re-issue of her popular Homemaker range. It’s fair to say my knowledge of 1950s porcelain has advanced immeasurably in the last couple of hours,while still not exactly a leading authority I feel qualified to tell you about the new Homemaker RCA06 range released by 1882 Ltd, that debuted recently at Vivienne Westwood’s flagship store in Corso Venezia, during Milan Design Week.
The new collection is a reworking of the 1957 design by Enid Seeney which was produced by Ridgway Pottery. Seeney worked for the firm for seven years, but left before her Homemaker pattern made it to the shops. The Homemaker RCA06 range has been re-worked by Berlin designer Eyal Burstein, featuring illustrations of works by a group of his fellow Royal College of Art 2006 alumni.
Jessica Stoller’s ribbons and bows adorn grotesque take on femininity. Sexy? Creepy? Some uncomfortable mixture of both? Sculptor and pottery magician Jessica Stoller explores the relationship between the two in her latest collection Spoil, a mass of grotesque and unpalatable contradictions coated in a sickly sweet glaze, realised with head-scratchingly brilliant technique.
Female symbolism and bodily subversion are all on the table in Spoil, but this recipe also contains a healthy dollop of humour in there with the gender commentary. Macabre iconography, gluttony and some unexpected piercings are also in the mix, and the dark themes jar excitingly with the frilly Rococo delivery.
Kim Simonnon deviant art. In the height of Finland’s winter months, darkness is something all too familiar to its residents; little surprise then that its artists exercise the right to explore the art world’s darker side – something that Kim Simonsson does relishes with open arms. Using the naïvety of youth as a vehicle to explore fantasy, nihilism and juvenile dissent, Simonsson crafts unexpected scenarios, largely dominated by cute young girls with an evil glint in their eye. From the mild insolence of blowing bubbles, spitting and jumping in puddles to killing, erm, swan serpents – the Finn’s uncomfortable works are things of rare anarchic beauty.
Simonsson’s sculptures stand alongside other traditional stereotypes of ceramic art with wide-eyed cross-culture aesthetics, largely influenced by Far Eastern fantasies and comic art. Weaving a magical roller coaster of influences and techniques, these deviant little characters crash through East and West, Pop and Fine Art and come out the other side with windswept hair and bracing originality.