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Art

Interview with Els Wenselaers, Belgian ceramic artist

Interview with Els Wenselaers / Spotlight
By Ileana Surducan
Published in Ceramics Now Magazine Issue 2

What made you choose ceramics as a way of expressing yourself?

Clay is as good as any other medium, it is a material with lots of possibilities but it doesn’t influence my personal perception of art. Sometimes because of its limitations in format, in height, due to the measures of my kiln I have to find other solutions than I used before, but that are technical issues. I have also used other materials like papier maché before but the outcome of my figurines would be the same.

What is for you the importance of figurative representation?

It’s the essence of my work. It wouldn’t be possible for me to make work if my thoughts and feelings are not involved. All of them have a meaning and reflect my personal view on society. It’s not necessary for the public to understand it, you can enjoy them without knowing the background, but I need to be able to make them. Some of my works have a spiritual dimension. Love, understanding and insight, the meaning of existence - of evil, the happiness of life and the tragedy of death affect us, but are by themselves invisible. You can see it as a spiritual quest in which I will not flee, but indeed want to decompose and play with. The human figure in this case is the most suitable.

Els Wenselaers Contemporary Belgian Ceramics - The brain controller

Els Wenselaers: The Brain Controller, 2009, Ceramics, used materials, 25 x 29 x 16 cm.
> View more works by Els Wenselaers


Art no longer has to be “beautiful”, since the beauty of an object is derived not only from its appearance, but also from it’s concept and use. Tell us more about the aesthetic categories embodied by your work, and your motivation in choosing them.

The followers of modernism only repeat a trick, a cheap shock effect - desecrating the beauty. It has been repeated so many times and now it belongs to the popular circuit. An authentic artist is always looking for new styles, new forms to express himself and will not be guided by expectations. The emptiness of existence can contrast strongly with its beauty and vice versa. Beauty, ugliness, two sides of the same coin. It’s the perception of it that counts; something very beautiful can be experienced as ugly when you discover the essence, the inner side of it. Art exists in many layers, for those who want to see it. My work can be considered as superficially aesthetic, but the deeper meaning is of a different order. There isn’t much beauty in the emptiness of an existence as in the Sisyphus series. “L’existence précède l’essence”. Existence precedes essence. (Jean Paul Sartre)


The Human Hybrids series emphasizes a new twist of an old idea. Humans with animal characteristics have been a constant presence in many cultures since thousands of years ago. Compared to their traditional representation, what do you want to express with your works?

Indeed, one of the oldest known is an ivory sculpture, the Lion man of the Hohlenstein Stadel, Germany, a human-shaped figurine with a lion’s head, determined to be about 32,000 years old. Anthropomorphism is assigning human (behavioral) characteristics to animals. After reading an article about genetic engineering, I started on human hybrids. You can make goats, produce cobwebs or grow a human ear on the back of a mouse, etc. These techniques don’t stay within the walls of a laboratory. Since a number of years, you can find genetically manipulated fish in the aquarium trade. A familiar example is the glowfish: a gene of coral polyps was implanted in a zebrafish so that the fish has become luminous. Wherein ancient civilizations, men thought that they could get the spirit of the animal at their sides in the hunt by performing rituals, men now literally attempt to change certain qualities or appearances of people through genetic modification. Currently one is allowed to blend DNA of humans and animals and keep this hybrid alive up to 14 days, and this with the purpose to investigate the study of human bred organs for organ transplantation. There are both positive and negative elements to this evolution, but you can wonder who will eventually be the freak in the future: modified or unmodified humans. I want to start a dialogue about it with the Human Hybrids.

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  • Interview with David D. Gilbaugh (The Tectonic Method)

    David D. Gilbaugh (The Tectonic Method)
    Author: Ileana Surducan
    Category: Techniques
    Published in Ceramics Now Magazine Issue 2

    The objects you create realistically mimic the texture and look of wood stumps, roots and branches. What is your connection with this natural element, and why did you choose to investigate it in ceramics?

    Human emergence is the overarching theme of my sculptural work; as metaphors for that I use the aging tree as well as the natural land features of the earth. My life connection with trees and land extends from childhood when I remember exploring the woods and mountains of Colorado with my older brother and friends. Today I continue my fascination and exploration with the woods and mountains here in Southern California, where I live a short walk from the local foot trails of the San Gabriel Mountains. Ceramics is the most appropriate medium for me because clay seems to know what I want and interacts with me in a very agreeable way. The characteristics and behavior of clay seems to have a common goal with me as if it wants to behave in a way that yields a pleasing result. Clay naturally takes on the characteristics of wood and earth.

    David D. Gilbaugh Ceramics - Interview for Ceramics Now Magazine

    David D. Gilbaugh: Racemosa, 2011, sculpted teapot, 4”(W) x 11”(H) x 8”(D), hand-built slab, B-mix stoneware paper clay with grog, cone 10 reduction, black stain brushed in crevices, water washed iron and rutile stain. Permanent collection of the American Museum of Ceramic Arts.
    View more works of David Gilbaugh


    In order to make your work, you use a special process called the Tectonic Method. Tell us more about this technique. How did you develop it and what are its characteristics?

    The Tectonic Method is a sculptural technique that utilizes the same tectonic forces that shape and texture the surface of the earth’s crust. These forces include stretching, compressing, and twisting. I begin with an idea of the sculptural object I am going to make and the pieces that will make it up. I then cut a piece of clay from the block that is roughly in the shape of what I want. I then use specialized wire hand tools to pre-texture what will be the visible surface. Next, I “naturalize” the pre-textured clay by tossing, slamming, or dropping the clay against the table top in a way that distorts the tooling of the pre-textured surface. The textured surface is not touched by the hand or tools from then on. The result is a dramatically textured form that is very natural looking. I call this a “tectonic form.” I then use specialized techniques to join together numerous tectonic forms to create a “Tectonic Sculpture” like “The Imaginist” or “The Bearded Ghoul.”

    Early in my ceramic studies I began developing The Tectonic Method when I was laying them out on the table top to stretch them out. I could see that stretching clay gave it beautiful patterns of cracks and fissures. I soon discovered that cutting the surface of the clay before stretching it resulted in natural patterns that are easy to reproduce and incorporate into sculptures. The method developed very quickly from there. Since those early experiences stretching clay I have found numerous applications by other ceramists who used stretching as a texturing technique and even a throwing tool designed to apply patterns to vessels thrown on the wheel called the “Steve’s Tool.” A bit of research reveals that stretching clay to achieve decorative textures in clay is a very old tradition. What distinguishes the Tectonic Method from other stretching methods is that it includes specialized techniques for pre-texturing the clay, numerous tossing methods for naturalizing textures, and construction methods for building large clay sculptures that can be prone to slumping to the side during firing. The Tectonic Method is a start-to-finish method of forming and constructing both small and large clay “Tectonic Sculptures.”


    Many of your objects are made from paperclay. What are the paperclay’s properties and why did you choose to work with it?

    Paperclay is extremely versatile clay that works well with my purposes, especially the Tectonic Method. It remains workable even when it is dry. At bone dry it can be drilled, sawed, and even rewetted. Many ceramists try paperclay and find it difficult to use so they go back to what they were doing. This is unfortunate, and I believe it is because it is the change itself that is the real challenge, not the clay. Paperclay is not difficult to work with at all; it is only different and takes getting used to. Before I began throwing with porcelain I was told it was much more difficult than stoneware to throw. However, it is not more difficult, it is only different in its properties, so the artists must be able to adapt their skills and learn new ones to work with it successfully. I also find paperclay is more economical because it can be very easily reconstituted and go from dry to plastic overnight. If a piece is broken it can be reattached even if it is dry - instead of going in the trash, and the list goes on. However, the primary reason I use it is because of the dramatic textures it produces when it is “pre-textured” and stretched.

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  • Esencia 2013 by Sanserif Creatius: Japanese and Valencian Craftsmanship / Valencia, Spain

    Esencia 2013 by Sanserif Creatius: Japanese and Valencian Craftsmanship

    Esencia 2013 by Sanserif Creatius: Japanese and Valencian Craftsmanship / Valencia, Spain
    November 28, 2013 - February 28, 2014

    The second edition of the Esencia project is inspired by the reflection of Japanese craftsmanship in the Valencian one and coordinated by Sanserif’s team of designers who worked together with 20 artisans from Alicante, Castellon and Valencia. The aim of this exhibition is to update the image of craftsmanship through the development of a heterogeneous universe of objects that transmit contemporary messages and meet the needs of contemporary society, by the use of traditional techniques and processes.

    This investigation project, which annually turns into a travelling exhibition and was awarded in the last edition of the National Crafts Awards (Spain), has been chosen to be part of the official cultural acts to celebrate the Dual Year Spain-Japan, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the mission of the Keicho Embassy in Europe.

    Esencia 2013, which will stay in Valencia until the 28th February 2014, follows the same motto than the first edition, that is, to join the forces of craftsmanship and design in order to develop a collection of pieces where we find a hybridization of Japanese and Valencian tradition. The main objective is to make new products that bring additional values to the consumer, include new languages and fit in with new technologies, while having commercial viability.

    The exhibition will show from jewellery to kitchenware, fashion accessories and decoration, all paying homage to the creativity of the craftsmanship of both cultures, in collaboration with different national organizations, like the Spanish Foundation for the Innovation in Crafts (Fundesarte), the Valencian Regional Government –through the Directorate-General of Trade and Consumption- the Gild of Tailors and Couturiers, the Gild of Master Confectioners of Valencia, and artisans of recognised standing like Juan Carlos Iñesta, Sara Sorribes, Marifé Navarro or José Marín, among others.

    Actually, a selection of products from the exhibition will be included in the exclusive collections of Sibarita Shop, the first shop of the Arts and Crafts Centre of the Valencian Community. A place to buy pieces such us the olive oil clock Moments by Sara Sorribes and Sanserif Creatius, that had a honourable mention in the 2013 Tortona Design Week; the sheet music peg Score-clip by Sanserif Creatius, present at the Mussikmese 2013 in Frankfurt, among others.

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  • Keisho-Ha - A New Materialism and the Yufuku Aesthetic / Yufuku Gallery, Tokyo

    Keisho-Ha, A New Materialism and the Yufuku Aesthetic at Yufuku Gallery, Tokyo

    Keisho-Ha - A New Materialism and the Yufuku Aesthetic / Yufuku Gallery, Tokyo
    December 5-21, 2013

    Contemporary Japanese art in the 21st century is heading in a new and unique direction.

    Exhibited artists: Ken Mihara, Shigekazu Nagae, Atsushi Takagaki, Takahiro Yede, Naoki Takeyama, Niyoko Ikuta, Shunichi Yabe, Masaaki Yonemoto, Takafumi Asakura

    Artists are using traditional techniques to create not craft, but objects of self-expression that are very much a type of sculpture that can change space itself. Such artists are pushing the boundaries of their respective mediums to new heights, using new techniques and materials that have not been used before.

    Yet when one takes a step back and views today’s world of contemporary art, it is widely seen that concepts are allowed to run free, whilst the importance of technique and actual artistry are left behind and abandoned. Throughout art history, one can consistently observe an element of craftsmanship in fine art, from the statues of Greece to the frescoes of Italy, from the ink paintings of China to the folding painted screens of Japan. Even in expressionist and abstract painting, the works of Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Pollock, Rothko, Bacon and Freud were instilled with an element of technique as a priori. Craftsmanship was a given, but was not the sole emphasis. Technique was simply needed to realise the form of self-expression that they envisioned in their mind’s eye. Technique was not a starting point, but was a necessary means to an end. Likewise, I find that the artists affiliated with Yufuku are not technique-oriented artists, even though many of them are renowned for their technical prowess. Rather, for artists such as Shigekazu Nagae and Ken Mihara, the technique is simply a requirement needed for them to create the clay sculptures that they wish to manifest. Technique, again, is a given, and is only a means to an end.

    If taken in this light, I find that the term craft or the Romanized Japanese word Kogei (synonymous with craft) is gravely inadequate in fully expressing what these contemporary Japanese artists are actually creating. Their works are not craft works, and they are not craft artists. Instead, they are emancipating their art from the fetters of language and from the limitations imposed by the element of categorisation. Such is the progressive moment in today’s Japan. I call them the Keisho-Ha (the School of Form), and can be also expressed as a New Materialism, wherein technique and material are chosen specifically to create sculptural works imbued with self-expression. This is, in a sense, a Return to Innocence, or a revival of artistry within art.

    Today’s Japan is a world where craft does indeed exist vibrantly, and craft is very much alive and well in the likes of the Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition and the Living National Treasure System, along with potters and makers of mass-produced vessels for everyday life. But one cannot continue to categorise the makers of everyday utilitarian tea cups and bowls with the same terminology and language as artists wielding the very same techniques to create works that are worlds apart from these everyday objects. A different expressive process is taking place, and the Japanese are at a loss for properly contemplating and understanding this new movement. To lazily lump everything together as craft or kogei was simply out of convenience, an excuse for the Japanese to stop thinking about the subject that was so obviously unique to their culture, and is so vastly different from traditional Western connotations and demarcations of art and craft.

    "The limits of our language are the limits of our world." Yet if such is true, then why not expand the boundaries of our language and properly express what is happening in our world today?
    Such is the importance of language and ontology.

    The artists assembled in this exhibition are a representation of this new movement in today’s Japan, a movement that Yufuku finds its lifework and reason for existence. This is art. And they are the Keisho-ha. Such is a true return to innocence, an emancipation of art for the sake of art.
    Wahei Aoyama, Owner and Director of Yufuku Gallery

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  • In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art / Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge

    In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art at Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge - Bowl with inscription and birds, Samanid period, 10th century

    In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art / Harvard Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge
    January 31 - June 1, 2013

    Harvard Art Museums present exhibition of Norma Jean Calderwood’s collection of Islamic Art
    Includes Persian ceramics, illustrated manuscripts, drawings, and lacquerware

    The Harvard Art Museums present In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, a special exhibition that showcases some 150 objects from the Persian cultural sphere, including luxury glazed ceramics of the early and medieval Islamic era, illustrated manuscripts of medieval epic poems, and lacquerware of the early modern era. The works in this little-known and largely unpublished collection represent 30 years of committed collecting by Mrs. Calderwood. In Harmony is on display January 31–June 1, 2013 at the Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 485 Broadway, Cambridge, MA.

    The exhibition is curated by Mary McWilliams, Norma Jean Calderwood Curator of Islamic and Later Indian Art, Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art, Harvard Art Museums. An accompanying catalogue, edited by McWilliams, offers illustrated entries and nine essays written by distinguished scholars and conservation scientists from a broad range of specialties.

    “In the decade since the Harvard Art Museums received the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, our gratitude has only increased for this magnificent gift,” said McWilliams. “Our research on the collection has inspired an even greater admiration and respect for Norma Jean’s knowledge and achievement. With this exhibition and catalogue, we hope to share with a broader audience the understanding we have gained of this beautiful and thoughtfully formed collection.”

    “There has been exponential growth in the study of Islamic art in recent decades,” said Thomas W. Lentz, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums, “and Harvard University and the Harvard Art Museums have been at the forefront of this movement, with faculty, curators, students, and celebrated collections providing fertile ground for the field. The Calderwood Collection is a lasting contribution from a collector who understood the heart of our educational mission.”

    The Calderwoods
    Norma Jean Calderwood devoted much of her life to studying and teaching Islamic art and the complex of cultures in which it arose. She pursued graduate study in Islamic art at Harvard University, where she specialized in Persian manuscripts, and taught for many years at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and at Boston College. A gifted lecturer, she was also an intrepid traveler, crossing North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia to study the art and architecture of Islamic lands. For three decades beginning in 1968, she systematically acquired examples of the artistic tradition that captivated her.

    Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood were energetic and generous philanthropists in their adopted city of Boston. Institutions that have benefited directly from the Calderwoods’ generosity include the Boston Athenaeum, Boston College, the Cambridge Art Association, the Harvard Art Museums, the Huntington Theatre, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, NH), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and public broadcaster WGBH. Their private art collection was the most tangible and personal expression of the Calderwoods’ lifelong involvement in the arts, but also the one least known to the public.

    Bowl inscribed with sayings of the Prophet Muhammad and Ali ibn Abi Talib, Uzbekistan - In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art

    The Calderwood Collection
    The Calderwood Collection covers more than a thousand years of artistic achievement in the Persianate world during the Islamic era, principally through the media of ceramics, works on paper, and lacquer. The majority of objects were produced between the 9th and 19th centuries in Iran, Iraq, and parts of Central Asia. Initially attracted to luxury ceramics, Norma Jean Calderwood amassed 57 examples within a decade before shifting her attention to works on paper—illuminated and illustrated manuscript folios as well as single-page compositions. A handful of lacquer objects rounds out the collection. The collection was gifted to the Harvard Art Museums in 2002, and a subsequent exhibition of 46 objects, titled Closely Focused, Intensely Felt: Selections from the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, was held August 7, 2004–January 2, 2005 at the Sackler Museum. That exhibition marked the first public showing of a major portion of the collection.

    In Harmony
    To convey to her students the effect of a Persian painting, Norma Jean Calderwood said that its many visual elements “united to form a harmony.” The theme is eloquently expressed in some of the finest works in the Calderwood Collection, as well as in the total assembly, with objects resonating through contrasts and connections. This exhibition celebrates the scope of Calderwood’s achievement and the harmony of purposes that led to the gifting of the collection to the Harvard Art Museums.

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  • Call for applications: First edition of Cluj International Ceramics Biennale (CICB 2013)

    Call for applications: First edition of Cluj International Ceramics Biennale 2013

    CLUJ INTERNATIONAL CERAMICS BIENNALE (CICB 2013)

    First edition, October 9 - November 3, 2013
    Cluj-Napoca, Romania

    Applications deadline: May 30, 2013
    www.ceramicsbiennale.com/apply

    Cluj International Ceramics Biennale is the first contemporary ceramics biennale organized in Romania, and is aiming to become an international meeting place for ceramic artists. Artists from all over the world are invited to apply and participate at the biennale with their ceramic works. Apply now (Applications deadline: May 30, 2013).

    Expressing artistic sensibilities using the means of ceramic art is on a growing scale amongst artists all over the world, and in the last years the contemporary ceramics field started to be seen as a contribution to the major arts. The first edition of the biennale has the potential to change old mentalities, focusing on the contemporary context and presenting the diversity of concepts and techniques in the innovative field of contemporary ceramics.

    Cluj International Ceramics Biennale (CICB 2013) is organized by Ceramart Foundation and Ceramics Now Association, in partnership with Cluj-Napoca Art Museum, the University of Arts and Design Cluj-Napoca, and The Romanian Fine Artists Union. The ceramics biennale will be held in several locations in the city of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, during October 9 - November 3, 2013.

    The CICB’s goal is to become a contemporary meeting point for ceramic artists from all over the world. This artistic event will introduce the Romanian public to contemporary ceramic artists, practices and new concepts in the field. The biennale will also get round national and international institutions to work together with the aim of creating a living environment for ceramics in the city of Cluj-Napoca.

    The profound changes in the world today, whether socio-economic, political or techno-scientific, have strongly influenced the artists’ search for new ways of expression, and engendered a change in how the creative act is viewed, both in terms of means of expression and in terms of message.

    Sensitive to the slightest changes of artistic canon in the global Agora of contemporary arts, ceramic art evolves toward an interdisciplinary and integrative strategy. The new concepts that are gaining ground in the field attest to an aesthetic simbiosis with forms of expressivity specific to other artistic fields, while at the same time, retaining and accentuating - an experimental development specific to the field. The outcome could form an ingenious and resourceful alchemy.

    For more information, please read more on www.ceramicsbiennale.com or email office@ceramicsbiennale.com

    The jury for the first edition of CICB:
    Zehra Çobanlı - Artist and Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Anadolu University, Eskişehir, Turkey.
    David Jones - Artist and Senior Lecturer in Ceramics at the University of Wolverhampton, England.
    Les Manning - Artist and former Vice-President of the International Academy of Ceramics Geneva and Founding Director of the Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada.
    Cristina Popescu Russu - Artist and Vice-President of the Romanian Fine Artists Union, Romania.
    Ting-Ju Shao - Artist and writer, former committee consultant for the Taiwan Ceramics Biennale and Taipei Ceramic Awards.
    Blazenka Soic Stebih - Artist, President at KERAMEIKON and Director of the International Festival of Postmodern Ceramics and Ceramica Multiplex, Varazdin, Croatia.

    Organizing committee:
    Arina Ailincăi - Romanian Fine Artists Union
    Marius Georgescu - University of Arts and Design Cluj-Napoca, Ceramart Foundation
    Vasi Hîrdo - Ceramics Now Association
    Călin Stegerean - Cluj-Napoca Museum of Art
    Gavril Zmicală - Romulus Ladea Fine Arts High school

  • Molly Hatch: REVERIE / Philadelphia Art Alliance

    Molly Hatch: REVERIE exhibition Philadelphia Art Alliance

    Molly Hatch: REVERIE / Philadelphia Art Alliance, United States
    February 7 - April 28, 2013

    "In a continued effort to claim the functional surface of the dinner plate as a painting surface, REVERIE includes a new collection of historically sourced plate paintings. In response to the domestic nature of the galleries at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, I have designed “Tea for Two” a historic teacup inspired fabric wallpaper installation.

    For REVERIE I worked closely with curators at The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA to source their largely unviewed collection of historic teacups for “Tea for Two”, a fabric wallpaper installation. The story of Francine and Sterling Clark personally collecting hundreds of teacups over a lifetime now housed in the Clark Art Institute archives resonated with my own personal Metcalf family history of collecting and coveting decorative arts.

    Rather than seeking source material from an additional museum collection for my new plate paintings in REVERIE, I chose to mine my own family’s collection of ceramic objects. My own family history of collecting resonated with the Francine and Sterling Clark cup collection. Thanks to the generosity of my family, my new plate paintings will be exhibited alongside the originals on loan for the duration of the exhibition.

    REVERIE is a personal exploration of the relationship between the historic and the contemporary with artworks crossing over categories of decorative art, design and fine art. Fascinated by how we live with objects, how and why we acquire objects and what happens to them throughout history, I see this exhibition as a reflection of the life of surface pattern through the decorative art continuum.” Molly Hatch

    “No art is simply, blithely contemporary. That would be like saying our parents had no influence on us. Today’s art responds to and reacts against yesterday’s art. Hatch serves up the magisterial landscape on a grid of 30 hand-painted ceramic dinner plates. The grid of circles cleverly breaks up and abstracts the scene, but doesn’t abandon its coherence. Indeed, it spotlights the mark-making.” Boston Globe Review of COVET: Modern Riffs on Old Ideas by Cate McQuaid, May 30, 2012

    Artist and designer Molly Hatch grew up on an organic dairy farm in Vermont surrounded by a startlingly diverse set of visual influences: the earthy reality of rural life, and the mysterious, disembodied luxury of antique decorative objects from her mother’s family, prosperous Boston merchants who used Chinese export porcelain as ballast in their ships. Inspired by these two seemingly disparate family narratives, Hatch became an artist with a life-long passion for the decorative arts and the dialog between old and new. She has developed a robust studio practice that encompasses both works of art and design for industry, keenly aware of the different concerns and goals of each, while engaging with the ambiguity of objects that seem to exist in both the decorative and fine art realms.

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  • Containment: 2012 Cicely & Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award / The Ian Potter Centre: NGV, Melbourne, Australia

    Containment: 2012 Cicely & Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award / The Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

    Containment: 2012 Cicely & Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award / The Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
    November 23, 2012 - July 21, 2013

    The theme of ‘containment’ will be explored by fourteen Victorian artists for the 2012 Cicely & Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award.

    The Award focuses on contemporary design practice in Victoria and is arguably the most prestigious offered to a contemporary practitioner in Australia with a prize of $30,000 provided through the Cicely & Colin Rigg Bequest, managed by ANZ Trustees.

    Tony Ellwood, NGV Director, said, “This year’s Award presents an exciting mix of Victorian artists and reflects the NGV’s ongoing commitment to contemporary design. The NGV is only able to stage this important event thanks to the vision of the Trustees of the Rigg Bequest and the foresight of the generous benefactors, Cicely and Colin Rigg.”

    Teresa Zolnierkiewicz, Head of Philanthropy, ANZ Trustees, said, “The Rigg Bequest is a generous legacy of the late Colin Rigg (1895-1982). He was inspired by the Felton Bequest to create something in his own will that developed the arts in Victoria. This award, designed by the Trustees in partnership with the NGV, serves as a demonstration of the power of philanthropy to nurture and support artists and designers, vital to a thriving society.”

    The participating artists in 2012 are: Garry Bish, Robin Bold, Emma Davies, Mark Edgoose, Neville French, Titania Henderson, Marian Hosking, Richard Morrell, Ian Mowbray, David Pottinger, David Ray, Owen Rye, Yhonnie Scarce and Katherine Wheeler.

    Amanda Dunsmore, Curator, International Decorative Arts & Antiquities, NGV, said, “The choice of a theme for this year’s Award, rather than a specific area of practice, allows great scope for interpretation. Many of the works employ a sculptural aesthetic while remaining inherently functional, yet they play with the possibilities of what might be, beyond their practical value. Other works are presented in the context of a traditional concept.”

    Previous recipients of the Cicely & Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award are Neville Assad-Sadha (1994) for ceramics, Robert Baines (1997) for metalwork, Louise Weaver (2003) for textiles, Sally Marsland (2006) for jewellery and Simone LeAmon (2009) for seated furniture.

    Emma Mayall, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art, said, “This year’s group of artists represents a diverse mix of emerging and established practitioners. The vibrancy of Victorian design is highlighted through the wide range of practice and media represented, including ceramics, glass, metalwork, plastics and natural materials.”

    The recipient of the 2012 Cicely & Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award is Marian Hosking. The prize of $30,000 was awarded to Ms Hosking for her work Clearing. Ms Hosking said, “It’s an honour to be chosen for an award that celebrates the diversity and vibrancy of contemporary Victorian craft and design. I’m overwhelmed to be selected from such a stellar group and appreciate that craft is visible within the National Gallery of Victoria.”

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  • New Blue and White / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

    New Blue and White exhibition Museum of Fine Arts Boston, work by Harumi Nakashima

    New Blue and White / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
    February 20, 2013 - July 14, 2013

    New Blue and White at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, showcases inventive works in blue and white by 40 international artists and designers.

    Contemporary sculpture, ceramics, fashion, glass, furniture, and more offer a new twist to age-old imagery

    Over the past millennium, blue-and-white ceramics have become an international phenomenon—familiar as Dutch Delftware, Ming vases, and Blue Willow china, among other forms. Today, the popular ceramic medium continues to offer inspiration, especially to the more than 40 international artists and designers whose works are presented in New Blue and White at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). On view from February 20 through July 14 in the MFA’s Henry and Lois Foster Gallery, the exhibition highlights nearly 70 objects made over the course of the past 15 years across a wide array of media. Many of these works offer a contemporary twist to traditional blue-and-white imagery using abstraction, digital manipulation, contemporary subject matter, and even trompe l’oeil to surprise and delight. They range from small porcelains to room-size installations and include never-before-seen creations by artists such as Mark Cooper, Annabeth Rosen, Pouran Jinchi, and Kurt Weiser, and recent MFA acquisitions of work by fashion label Rodarte and ceramic sculptor Chris Antemann. Also on view are ceramics by Nakashima Harumi, Robert Dawson, and Steven Lee. The exhibition is presented with generous support from The Wornick Fund for Contemporary Craft. Additional support is provided by The John and Bette Cohen Fund for Contemporary Decorative Arts, and the Joel Alvord and Lisa Schmid Alvord Fund.

    “The works in New Blue and White deftly show how one remarkable set of material traditions, which have had a profound international impact, can inspire new generations of artists. They make surprising, beautiful connections across time and cultures, helping us understand our history and our present,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA.

    At its simplest, blue and white refers to the application of cobalt pigment on white clay. It originated in 9th-century Mesopotamia and subsequently captured the imaginations of artists throughout Asia. Through a frenzy of trade networks and stylistic exchange, these coveted works made their way to Europe and eventually the New World. With them went multiple narratives focused on ideas as varied as wealth, power, beauty, family, exoticism, colonialism, and commerce. Inspired by this rich and varied global legacy, today’s artists create works that tell contemporary stories incorporating cultural, social, and historical references. To illustrate this, four themes will be presented to guide visitor engagement with the objects in the exhibition: Cultural Camouflage; Memory and Narrative; Abstract Interpretations; and Political Meaning.

    Exhibiting artists: Ann Agee (US), Chris Antemann (US), Katsuyo Aoki (Japan), Felicity Aylieff (England), Robin Best (Australia), Stephen Bowers (Australia), Boym Partners [Constantin Boym (Russian) and Laurene Boym (American)], Caroline Cheng (England), Mark Cooper (US), Claire Curneen (Ireland), Robert Dawson (England), Barbara Diduk (US), Michelle Erickson (US), Front Design (Sofia Lagerkvist, Anna Lindren, Katja S’vstr’m, Charlotte von der Lancken) (Sweden), Gésine Hackenberg (Germany), Molly Hatch (US), Giselle Hicks (US), Sin Ying Ho (China), Pouran Jinchi (Iran), Hella Jongerius (Netherlands), Charles Krafft (US), Steven Lee (US), Li Lihong (China), Beth Lo (US), Livia Marin (Chile), Harumi Nakashima (Japan), Rodarte (Kate and Laura Mulleavy) (US), Annabeth Rosen (US), Richard Saja (US), Eduardo Sarabia (US), Paul Scott (England), Richard Shaw (US), Tommy Simpson (US), Caroline Slotte (Finland), Min-Jeong Song (Korea), Vipoo Srivilasa (Thailand), Kondô Takahiro (Japan), Brendan Tang (Canada), Studio Van Eijk & Van der Lubbe (Neils Van Eijk, Mirian Van der Lubbe) (Netherlands), Peter Walker (US), Kurt Weiser (US), Ah Xian (China).

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  • "In women’s hands" artwork by Italian artist Clara Garesio, donated to the United Nations Office

    In womens hands artwork by Italian artist Clara Garesio, donated to the United Nations Office

    In Women’s hands, an artwork by Italian artist Clara Garesio, created specifically for the High Level panel “The Power of Empowered Women” was  donated by the delegation of the European Union on February 25 to the United Nations Office at Geneva where it will remain part of the permanent collection.

    Clara Garesio created the ceramic artwork specifically for the High Level panel “The Power of Empowered Women”, an initiative of the 40 women ambassadors to the UN, aimed at showcasing the experience of engaged women from politics, business and civil society who have overcome obstacles and developed approaches to move gender equality forward.

    Unveiling the work, a ceremony in the presence of UNOG Director-General Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the EU Head of Delegation Mariangela Zappia said: “It is a special day for the European Union – as we offer the very first donation to the United Nations – and it is special for me as a woman since this beautiful piece of art is about the beauty, the simplicity and strength of women as positive transformative forces of our societies.”

    (Source: eeas.europa.eu)

  • Vincent Leroy / Galerie NeC nilsson et chilglien, Hong Kong

    Vincent Leroy exhibition Galerie NeC nilsson et chilglien, Hong Kong

    Vincent Leroy exhibition / Galerie NeC nilsson et chilglien, Hong Kong
    March 15 - April 27, 2013

    Opening reception with the artist: March 14, 2013, from 6 pm.

    Moving under the influence of Japanese pop culture and New Realism. Kinetic artist Vincent Leroy forms poetry with his technology. Movement and repetition redefine natural order and commanded creation. Electric Flowers absorbs a haunting and fascinating rhythm that reinforces the endless repetition of motifs. Thus this field of mechanical flowers whose petals turn tirelessly on their rolling pins becomes an unlikely ode to the fragility of nature.

    Born in 1968, into a farming family in Avranches, in France’s Normandy region, Vincent Leroy graduated from the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Creation Industrielle in 1995. In his work as an industrial engineer, he maintains an overall perspective on the manufacturing process slecting shapes, materials, colors and technical properties. Active on the international contemporary art scene, Vincent Leroy is among those artists who refuse to be categorized.

    "Creating an object usually starts with finding the right materials, but the starting point for my work is kinetics. I play around with the speed and the way actions have casting effects. Movement was the basis for my piece I created in London for The Sketch, the restaurant and gallery space developed by Mourad Mazouz. I installed a flexible geometrical shape powered by two large motors between two mirrored walls. The material used is made to ripple, and the movement is reflected infinitely in The mirrors. Similarly, in Berlin I showed three balls made of translucent material that were made to move completely independently. I installed a tiny camera inside one of them, to give visitors a random, unimpeded perspective, with no vertical reference points, a little like astronauts in the weightlessness of space, when they’re moving around the shuttle. I wanted to let the public experience the phenomenon with just the bare minimum of technological resources.

    Simple movements still remain the basis of my work. Ten years ago my sculpture was more mechanically focused, the technology was present, more visibly a subject matter. Today the movement in my work is more fluid, and natural. I’m at a happy medium with this balance of nature verses machine, or nature as machine. We must come to mix and not oppose. My creative process is driven by a natural need to experiment. To question, guess, try, play, solve, function. Even if it is as basic as a piece of cardboard, glue and a toolbox. I am always surprised with the magic that emerges from these unexpected moments.

    I think my audience is primarily people who are on top of the latest trends in art and in music, who are found in major cities. It’s also companies like Arkema and Renault, Nissan and Canal+ I’ve had the opportunity to work with. In many cases it’s an audience that doesn’t judge the work on the basis of whether it’s consistent with some artistic movement. They’re people who are capable of being won over or astonished by what they see. It gives me great pleasure to be able to reach such a wide audience.” Vincent Leroy

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  • Theaters - Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

    In the early 20th century, following the development of the entertainment industry, hundreds of theaters were built across North America. Major entertainment firms and movie studios commissioned specialized architects to build grandiose and extravagant auditoriums. From the 60’s, TV, multiplexes and urban crisis made them obsolete. During the following decades, these theaters were either modernized, transformed into adult cinemas or they closed, one after the other; many of them were simply demolished. Those which remain, escaping this fate, have been converted to serve varied purposes. Now, many are reused as churches, retail space, flea markets, bingo halls, discos, supermarkets or warehouses. Some others just sit abandoned. (via)

    (Source: artchipel)

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