A Gradual Moment
Arts Council of Wales Production Grant
‘Surely if we can learn to listen to these things we have access to an authentic other voice.’
Daniel Miller, The Comfort of Things
In July 2019 I was awarded an Arts Council of Wales production grant, for a project, partnered by Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, entitled A Gradual Moment. The vision for this project is to create an installation work, which will be presented as a solo exhibition at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery (Swansea, Wales) in September 2020, with an intention to tour the exhibition both nationally and internationally within the UK, throughout 2021. The touring venues committed to hosting this exhibition are Oriel Plas Glyn Y Weddw (Gwynedd, Wales), Aberystwyth Art Centre (Ceredigion, Wales) and L’Etrangere (Shoreditch, London).
Taking the domestic realm as its site of enquiry, the intention is to create a body of work that presents as an intimate but nameless still life that speaks of the ordinary and the human. Points of transition and the in-between space are enduring themes within my art practice; specifically it is the imperceptible, uncertain nature of these spaces and their relationship to our human experience that interests me. The domestic spaces that we occupy, benign on the surface, operate as latent gaps within the narratives of our lives, potent with intimacy and disquiet. A Gradual Moment will be an endeavour to uncover this unsettling but tender human aspect from within the sphere of the domestic.
The theme of still life became increasingly central as the Arts Council of Wales project titled Material Presence developed to completion. The stilled moment offered a space to creatively explore qualities of silence and presence – the emotive presence of a form or collection of forms, and the presence and vibrancy of material – and invited a certain quality of attention from the viewer. This project offers the opportunity to extend this mode of enquiry, to use this evocative space to capture the ghosts of moments that go unnoticed within ordinary domestic settings.
New work will bring together porcelain, walnut and fluxing materials, and continue to integrate fluxing and slip casting processes more traditionally used within my art practice with digital (3D scanning, CNC milling) and more complex plaster model and mould making processes. It will build on knowledge of material and process, and skills developed during the project Material Presence, with an intention to extend the potentials of these materials and processes to produce new porcelain forms and furniture pieces that occupy and evoke an emotive presence.
As my art practice has progressed the material and crafted element of the work I create has become integral to its conceptual underpinnings. A Gradual Moment will further develop these approaches to making – forms and ideas emerging through a coexistence of the material, crafted and conceptual elements of the creative process. To ensure a high quality of production is achieved CNC milled furniture works will be developed in collaboration with Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Fablab and furniture designer Huw Williams and furniture maker Jennifer Finnigan. To support and challenge creative thinking I will be mentored by Ingrid Murphy (Artist and Academic Lead for Transdisciplinarity, Cardiff School of Art and Design) and Karen McKinnon (Director and curator, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery)
This project will exist as a study of humanness. Through a material and process driven inquiry into everyday objects it will explore intimate and disquieting elements of the domestic. It is my hope that this new body of work will allow audiences to connect with human experiences fundamental to us all, that otherwise remain imperceptible.
The gallery space at Glynn Vivian Art Gallery that houses their porcelain collection.
This is the space in which an installation of new work will be presented in September 2020. At the beginning of this project exactly what that installation will be is unknown but the space feels full of possibility.
I had the privilege of spending a day with Peter David – ceramic conservator and extraordinary mine of knowledge when it comes to porcelain – at the Glynn Vivian. He talked to me about the different collections they have housed there – the porcelains, the porcelain factories, the makers and the significance of various pieces. We looked at the porcelain out on display but also the porcelain they have stored in the vault – exciting, I’ve never been in a museum vault before!
It was interesting to see how my feeling for the objects changed as I learnt about their stories. I surprised myself – by the end it was many of the porcelain figures that I had fallen most in love with.
In this piece a young lady is sat holding a birdcage. The birdcage has been opened; the bird has flown out and is sat on the hand of the girl standing nearby. I’m told in a piece like this a bird in a cage would have signified virginity and on social occasions its owner might have positioned it in such a way as to cause suggestion or to make some mischief between her guests.
Many of the porcelain pieces made through the 18th century made reference to Ancient Greek mythology.
This is Pan, a satyr; he was the God of Misrule, of the wild, and apparently one of the patron saints of masturbation. I did love this figure, initially purely because the level and quality of detail in its making was so exceptional but I have to say I loved him even more when I found out who he was.
This Pan was made by Hochst, Germany.
Some early 18th century porcelain coffee cups made in the Meissen factory. I love them. I think they are just so beautiful, particularly the soft differences in colour of the different whites sat next to each other, as if some are in the shadows.
This is a porringer from Italy, 1901. We found it in storage in the museum vault. It would have been used perhaps to hold a milk pudding for an invalid. I think more than anything I like the idea of it being taken to someone in bed, and I like to think of them holding it by the two handles and sipping from it.
I read a lot; words are important to me and very often influence my work. I listen as I work in my studio. I’m listening to a book by James Salter at the moment – Light Years. I had to stop and write these lines down . . .
“Who cleans this house who scrubs the floors? She does everything this woman, she does nothing.“
“Her real concern is the heart of existence, meals, bed linen, clothing. The rest means nothing it is managed somehow.”
“Rooms from within which life was gathered”
The Poisonwood Bible
“I only know the middle ground where we live our lives”
Image: Kitchen Table, 2014, Daphne Wright
The first trials of plaster models for this project have begun!
This one turned on the lathe.
My Brilliant Friend
“Dissolving margins . . . her margins were softening and yielding”
“Reno had lost his usual outline she now had a brother without boundaries”
Image: Snow at Giverny, Claude Monet
Territory of Light
“I spent a year there with my little daughter on the top floor of an old office building . . . I felt as if I were in a secret chamber unknown to anyone”
‘It was only then that I realised how deeply attached to the building I had become as if the warmth of my body had permeated the vacant room on the third floor each step of the stairs even the noise of the shutter. I began scanning the ads in estate agents windows I wanted to find a new apartment before the studio was taken away from us. That way I could leave behind intact like a living thing the self that was by now an integral part of the building.’
Image: Camille Claudel, Auguste Rodin