Interview with Bente Skjøttgaard

Interview with Bente Skjøttgaard / Featured now
By Andra Baban
Published in Ceramics Now Magazine Issue 2

As a Danish ceramic artist, do you consider the living climate an important influence in your work?

I think it’s fair to say that my works have a certain Nordic nature component. Danish nature is not wild and magnificent – more one that offers quiet experiences: a misty morning over the ploughed fields; an old, dead tree; rainy weather that starts as dark streaks on the horizon; the weather clearing up after rain. Danish weather is changeable and often a cold, clammy affair, but this makes one more keenly aware of the light and small shifts in nuance.

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Emmanuel Boos and Esben Klemann: Systematic Uncertainty / Copenhagen Ceramics

Emmanuel Boos and Esben Klemann: Systematic Uncertainty exhibition Copenhagen Ceramics

Emmanuel Boos and Esben Klemann: Systematic Uncertainty / Copenhagen Ceramics, Denmark
February 28 - March 28, 2013

In ceramics the unknown is a fate for the practitioner. Emmanuel Boos and Esben both welcome unpredictability. Moreover they are provoking it. They share a playful and experimental approach to the ceramic material and their works are bred from a great curiosity towards the processes of the material.

Emmanuel Boos, now living in London, was born and grew up in France. He trained with Jean Girel, one of the big names in French ceramics, known for his works with beautiful textural glazes. Emmanuel Boos equally places the glazes at the centre of his artistic practice, but goes further. He questions the classic hierarchy, where the materials as such are regarded as undifferentiated, depending on being given form, morphe, which traditionally is considered the essential part.

For Boos form is often a pretext, a playground for glazes to develop on. His interest lies with the poetic character and sensuality of the glaze, both in a direct sense as the fusion of basic materials and in the symbolic potential of this. His works are not conceptually based; rather they express a search for beauty, that strives for a form of aesthetic contemplation appealing firstly to our senses and our emotions.

For his first show in Denmark, Emmanuel Boos will be showing both plinth and wall pieces. His intent is to draw the viewer into the glaze, inviting us to meander in its depth through poetic reverie. His forms oscillate between mysterious enclosed objects – minerals with an underlying organic presence – and thin sheets of porcelain like canvases gently folding and developing into space.

The expressive heartland in Esben Klemann’s work is clearly defined by his interest in architecture, construction and material, and a constant urge to further develop the making-processes, that are essential for the expression of the final works.

On ceramics, he states: "People envisage a lot of different things when you use the word ceramics. Images of ordinary domestic items, giant-sized-vessels, reliefs by Asger Jorn, etc. Through changes in work-methods, tools and placements, I strive to add new images to the picture, believing that ceramics has the potential to offer something more and different. I purposely draw my experiences from other sculptural areas into the ceramic process, to push it all into new directions.

You may label my work non-thematic or abstract, or see it as a formal language which communicates by establishing artistically elaborated spaces and objects, that in contrast to the ordinary, inject vitality into things.”

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Anne Tophøj and Marianne Nielsen: Elitist Folklore / Copenhagen Ceramics

Anne Tophøj and Marianne Nielsen: Elitist Folklore exhibition Copenhagen Ceramics

Anne Tophøj and Marianne Nielsen: Elitist Folklore / Copenhagen Ceramics
October 25 – November 17, 2012

Artist talk: Saturday, October 27, at 2 pm.

The dish, the plate, the table and the flower. These common everyday objects and the most beloved iconic shapes from nature are framing in the lives of most people. For their shared exhibition at Copenhagen Ceramics Marianne Nielsen and Anne Tophøj are investigating why and how we value these universal expressions of culture and nature. But what is elitist folklore? What does it look like from their point of view?

Marianne Nielsen occupies a very special position in Danish Ceramics. She takes interest, in an almost nerdy way, in the role of nature in our culture. In recent years her work often has concluded in definite renderings of natural subjects: mountains, feathers, leaves and now flowers and plants. As a kind of souvenir they refer to something beyond ourselves, being continuous, universal and something which, through its authenticity, contains an essential beauty. Yet, the representations of nature are about ourselves, since they only acquire their meaning through our very own gaze.

Marianne Nielsen articulates this: ’Flowers hold a modest position in the arts as something banal, soft, often assigned the subordinate part. For these pieces I have let the flower be on its own, allowing it to make up the entire work. The works are about what is not directly present – the references linked to flowers, both as representatives of beauty and natural souvenirs. But they also deal with that particular application that has worn down the flower-motif and turned it into a cliché.’

In a similar way Anne Tophøj is working with the values and inherent meanings of things. Either because the artifacts contain specific images or symbols that pass on a story or message, or by suggesting a particular use or way of handling.

Characteristic of her work she investigates the dish and the plate, objects that we are all very familiar with and make daily use of. As she herself puts it:The plate and the dish are signs of human culture and how we raise ourselves above the animals; they are pivotal in all eating rituals and our daily meals. Artefacts that we all have in common – universal, banal, indispensable tools helping us to sustain life. They are beloved and treasured objects that different cultures and times have shaped endlessly for use and for ornamentation, for the table and for the wall.”

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Bente Skjøttgaard: Traces – Art along Hærvejen, At the ancient road Hærvejen nature trail, close to the village of Bække in Central Jutland DK, approx. 40 m2. A project by the Danish Arts Foundation, 2010.

Bente Skjøttgaard: Traces – Art along Hærvejen, At the ancient road Hærvejen nature trail, close to the village of Bække in Central Jutland DK, approx. 40 m2. A project by the Danish Arts Foundation, 2010.

Bente Skjøttgaard: The “Hærvejen” Art Project under construction at Gråsten Agricultural College, February 2010. Petersen Tegl A/S in Broager has sponsored 10 tons of red brickwork clay.