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Scottish Ceramics

State of Flux / An Talla Solais, Ullapool, Scotland

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State of Flux / An Talla Solais, Ullapool, Scotland
April 17 - June 1, 2014

Featuring work by: Edina Andrási, Artúr van Balen, Fiona Byrne Sutton, Melanie Davies, Sinéad Dunn, Morgane Deffense, Tilly Gifford, Nicola Henderson, Kevin Morris, Emma Pratt, Ester Svensson.
Curated by Kevin Morris and Fergus Stewart.

Clay, in a state of perpetual flux, formed formed by the earth and then in the hands of the artist, will be transformed again in the eyes of visitors to this exhibition at An Talla Solais. Led by two artists, Fergus Stewart a well-established potter in the highlands and Kevin Morris a highly acclaimed new graduate from Aberdeenshire, State of Flux features a wide range of handmade and unique pieces of ceramic art from eleven of Scotland’s finest graduates.

Artúr van Balen’s installation of porcelain chickens reinvents the polystyrene wrapped, headless mounds of poultry meat bought in supermarkets into precious and valuable objects, these ceramic sculptures were cast in Berlin where porcelain was once more expensive than gold.

‘A Journey’ by Ester Svensson creates an imaginative world using porcelain, wood and string. Strange creatures and morphed forms which are delicately glazed create a three-dimensional fairy tale, open to interpretation.

These pieces contrast well with the aesthetic of Fiona Byrne-Sutton’s press moulded vessels, which are physical expressions of geological processes. Her vigorous handling of clay is a balance of risk and control. Each of her vessels are unique, formed with black stoneware and embedded with clays she digs up near the principal rivers of Scotland. Nicola Henderson’s open formed vessels are also rich in geological reference. Her vessels are influenced by a type of metamorphic rock known as gneiss. Deep beneath the earth’s crust these rock are formed under huge temperatures and pressure causing separate layers to form which compress and distort, giving the impression of waves and movement. Henderson has developed this layering effect in an attempt to impart a subtle energy and flow. She says ‘I wanted to reflect the fact that though we think of rock as something static, unmalleable and permanent, it is in a state of flux, having a life cycle of its own, changing and recycling itself over millions of years’.

Alongside this exhibition runs a series of educational activities using clay, including artist-led workshops in slip casting, mold making, throwing, and constructing and firing in an outdoor kiln.  These activities are designed to introduce participants to the different ways of working with this inspiring material through hands-on experience. These workshops will be taught by artists involved in the exhibition, providing a very rare opportunity for visitors to interact with real specialists and explore new art forms, literally getting their hands dirty!

The project State of Flux has grown out of the fact that opportunities to learn how to work with clay have dwindled a great deal over recent years. In 2012 Scotland’s last specialist degree course in Ceramics closed and it is no longer possible to study this subject as a full degree. An Talla Solais has acquired a brand new kiln in the light of this lack and this exhibition is just the beginning.

Thanks to Highland Stoneware and Breedon Aggregates who sponsored this exhibition.

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