Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Seto International Ceramics and Glass Art Exchange Program 2015

Between November and December 2015, I was ceramic artist in residence as part of the Seto International Ceramics and Glass Art Exchange Program 2015. 

I regard my art practice as a form of research through which I interact with particular sites, communities or historical museum collections. Taking part in the programme enabled me to participate in a community with a rich and living tradition of ceramics production.

All over Seto, there are signs of its long and continuing engagement with clay and ceramics. During the residency, my accommodation was located next to a clay quarry and I used locally produced porcelain and red clay to make my work. Abandoned, crumbling ceramics factories exist alongside going concerns, and almost everywhere you go, broken sherds of pottery can be found under foot. On visiting the excavated Konagaso kiln site, I was moved when I found fingerprints impressed into a clay kiln support fired some 500 years old. While the often heavily weathered buildings and shop signs were a nostalgic reminder of Seto’s heyday, meeting artists and visiting factories showed that the city is still a vibrant centre of making.

The Setomonogatari series was inspired by this sense of continuity and change, particularly as expressed through material culture and the built environment. Discarded ceramic objects have been recovered and incorporated into new work. An old plaster mould has been reused, bringing it back to life and highlighting its silent story of person-object interaction. The three wall pieces were made with a plaster press mould taken from a piece of rusty corrugated iron, a building material ubiquitous in Seto. In creating a piece of ceramic art, we are making a material offering which has the potential to endure into the future, intact or as sherds. I documented my time in Seto through photography, often uploading images to Instagram. Many of these photographs were used to make ceramic decals which decorate the works, especially the porcelain pot and ema labels. By turning this digital information into lasting, solid forms, I hope that these works will preserve and tell the story of my time in Seto – my setomonogatari – as well as pay homage to the place and its people.




Work made during the residency: Setomonogatari 1 (2015), porcelain, decals, pink lustre. 
Photo: Seto City Cultural Promotion Foundation, 2016.

Work made during the residency: Setomonogatari 4 - Fortune (2015), red clay, porcelain, mixed media, decals. Photo: Seto City Cultural Promotion Foundation, 2016.

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