Annie Woodford - Spotlight, October 2012

SPOTLIGHT, October 2012: Annie Woodford

Annie Woodford - Spotlight on Ceramics Now Magazine

Interview by Ileana Surducan and Vasi Hîrdo for Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two

You take your inspiration from nature. You are not just making a superficial observation, but you conduct a research of the things hidden to the naked eye. Tell us more about the universe you have discovered through your explorations.

I am fascinated by the natural world in its widest sense and at all levels. An interest in the nature of time - the past, present and future has led me to investigate multiverse theory and hidden dimensions - concealed worlds. From there I began to examine nature on a microscopic and nano scale. I became fascinated by the concept of the unseen and rendering it seen.

One of the subjects I investigated was that of diatoms, especially fossil diatoms. Invisible to the naked eye, beautiful and structurally complex I discovered them to bevery significanting the field of paleoclimatology - they are an important indicator of climate change.

I like to select various aspects of the natural world and then examine them on both a macroscopic and microscopic level, considering them in terms of their relationship to time and how they relate to other parts of the universe.

[] Read the full interview in Ceramics Now - Issue Two

Intricate but also delicate, your work seems to be obtained through a very meticulous process. What materials and techniques do you use and how much time does it take to complete a new piece?

Porcelain is the clay I favor - I particularly like ‘Southern Ice White’ which was developed by the Australian ceramicist Les Blakebrough. In general, the works are handbuilt; occasionally I use slip in a free but controlled way, sometimes combining it with fine glass fibre. I like to push the material beyond its perceived boundaries. The characteristics of porcelain mean that it requires careful handling throughout the making process and control and accuracy with firing and cooling.

I often incorporate extraneous materials once the piece is fired such as metal, monofilament, fibre or horsehair. These elements add richness to the work.

A new piece can take up to two weeks to make, depending on its complexity and it can take a further week or two to construct and apply other elements. I work intuitively when I am making, drawing on my research and bringing all the experiences together.

[] Read the full interview in Ceramics Now - Issue Two

Annie Woodford Contemporary Ceramics, Ceramics Now Magazine
Annie Woodford, Circlet, 2009, Porcelain, copper, stainless steel, 24 x 24 x 24 cm
View Annie Woodford’s works

Both science and art are a way of looking at the surrounding environment. What do you think is their meeting point? What kind of form of knowledge is art?

I often find myself working with scientists on projects and I think the two disciplines have many aspects in common. They both help us to understand the world around us. They both rely on investigation and imagination – the ‘what if?’ principle.

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In memoriam Eugenia Pop / Interview

ROMANIAN CONTEMPORARY CERAMICS, October 2012

In memoriam Eugenia Pop
Eugenia Pop lived and worked in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, where she graduated from the Ceramics Department of “Ion Andreescu” Arts Institute in 1971. Over the course of 40 years, she had exhibited in many countries and has been awarded for her career by the Romanian Government (Order of Cultural Merit) and the Fine Arts Union.

Eugenia Pop Romanian ceramic artist

Two days after our meeting in February, Eugenia Pop went to the Copăceni alms house, near Turda, to read in peace a book by Zhi Gang Sha. She wanted to learn how to communicate better with her guardian angel. She told us that the spirit must be cleaned more frequently.

We thank Jeni Pop from our hearts and promise to carry her optimism out in the world.

Interview by Alexandra Mureşan and Vasi Hîrdo for Ceramics Now Magazine, Issue Two
February 2012

How did the fascination for ceramics started?

I graduated Ceramics at the Fine Arts Highschool in Cluj. In the twelfth grade I had an excessive curiosity to do work as much as possible, that’s why I chose ceramics. I was a colleague with Arina Ailincăi for 6 years. We were also six in the department. Our personalities were very different, and they remained the same. A sculptor inoculated me the idea of versions. He gave me a theme, a ceramic piece in an architectural environment. After a few sketches, he told me to do more versions. I didn’t like the idea – why make more versions when the first one was good enough? But, if the master told me, I had to do it. I did lots of versions and sketches, from bad to worse. He chose from the first two, and I remained very sad because I worked so hard on so many. After a while, the seed sprouted in my mind. I was at a Communist party meeting, and I got very bored. I had my sketchbook at me and I was doing all sorts of sketches and drawings. The expression was changing with little diversity if terms of form. I showed the sketches to my professor. It remained my method over the years.

Now I stopped doing more versions on a theme. I read books, for example those written by Rudolf Steiner, and I make illustrations on the pages. When reading a book twice, the images speak to me a lot more and I feel the text very differently when it’s illustrated, just like a plastic commentary.

What are your main sources of inspiration?

I broke up with the illustrative image of the exterior form. I adhered to the archetypal forms, which are interior forms of the soul, forms that kids use when drawing, but also used in the antic culture.

Mihai Oroveanu said “Look how monumental your works are,” even if they were very small. Dan Hăliucă said the contrary: “That’s how it should be – plenty and small.” I used this thing with plenty and small a lot, because that’s how the image of the soul is. The soul is very capacious. From it’s ampleness you can make plenty and small.

A moment of crystallization appeared when I found my personality – when I said that this is how I want to express myself. It was the humanity theme, the man. The mother man, the old man, the child man. Mother Earth. These are themes that I feel I synthesized.
When I was young, my mother used to call me “little golden thorn” – she couldn’t tell me that I was not right, but I was also very determined. I was telling the truth.

Eugenia Pop - Mother Earth, ceramics
Eugenia Pop, Mother Earth, 1985, Soft porcelain

What is your dearest part in elaborating a new work?

Each part has its own magic. The first one is sketching the idea and choosing the right drawing, then follows the modeling and making the negative. After that, the fascination of the firing starts. It is like when a mother gives birth – she doesn’t know how the child will look like or what color his eyes will be. It is just like that after the firing, when you remain charmed by an object, and you say to yourself that this is mine! – its color has changed and it shrank. After you inspect it for a while, you adopt it or not. Sometimes you have to say I’m sorry – this is not mine.

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In relief: German Op-Art Ceramics, 1955-75 / University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson

German Relief Porzellan Exhibition, University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson

In relief: German Op-Art Ceramics, 1955-75 / University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson
September 28, 2012 – January 27, 2013

Opening Reception: October 4, 5-7 pm.

A first-ever exhibition of a mid-century movement of German ceramics, known as relief-porzellan, debuts at the University of Arizona Museum of Art. Entitled: In Relief: German Op-Art Ceramics, 1955-75” the exhibition opens on September 28 and runs through January 27, 2013. Both the exhibition and reception are open to the public.

Lawrence Gipe, UA Associate Professor of Studio Art, has been collecting mid-century German ceramics known as relief-porzellan for a number of years. Little was known about these beautiful objects until Gipe undertook to discover the history of their production. This exhibition presents his fascinating research, bringing to light the stories behind the factories and individual artists who created the objects.

"Several years ago, I became aware of this unique genre of German ceramics," says Gipe. "These mass-produced objects were made in "biscuit" porcelain – a matte-white or black finish that leaves the shape unglazed and naked, unadorned in its starkness."

Between the years of 1955-1980, more than a dozen companies were producing the Relief-Porzellan ceramics, mostly vases. Artisans, working in small Bavarian towns, created hundreds of designs, both geometric and organic. Some of the ceramic objects were stamped on the bottoms with the name of the designer and the trademark of the company that produced them. Gipe’s visit to an archive in Selb, Germany, the venerable Rosenthal and Co., offered a trove of journals and files, revealing artists and providing attributions to previously anonymous pieces.

Research for the UAMA exhibition, In Relief: German Op-Art Ceramics, was made possible by a grant from the International Affairs Department at the University of Arizona. The University of Arizona Museum of Art includes more than 6,000 artworks in its permanent collection created by artists from the 14th through the 21st centuries. UAMA is one of only twelve museums in Arizona accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM) and one of only 750 museums of the 16,000 museums nationwide with this highest award for excellence in the museum field.

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Month in Review: September 2012

Featured on Ceramics Now: Bertozzi & Casoni's Regeneration exhibition at All Visual Arts, London

Hello friends. Welcome to Month in Review, a summary of the last month of activity here at Ceramics Now.
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This month’s featured artists (view list):

Elizabeth Shriver (works)
David Gallagher (works)
Francesco Ardini (works)
Ellen Schön (works)

This month’s featured exhibitions:

Ceramics Now Team Exhibition / Europe Gallery, Brasov
Contemporary Ceramics / Stremmel Gallery, Reno, NV
Ellen Schön: Vessel Variations (x3) / Vessels Gallery
Fragile! In Transit / Traveling exhibition around Europe
Scandinavian Design / Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Marek Cecuła: SEEDS / Glass and Ceramics, Wrocław
Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos / NEW MUSEUM, New York
Bharti Kher / Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art
Ruth Duckworth exhibition / Erskine Hall & Coe, London
Contemporary Clay Invitational / j fergeson gallery
Arina Ailincăi: In-Scripted Body / Art on the Avenue
Scandinavian Ceramics Conference 2012 / Hjørring
Clémence van Lunen exhibition / Galerie NeC, Hong Kong
MOUNTED / Red Lodge Clay Center, Red Lodge, Montana
CONCEPTION - Part Two / Canvas Galleries, Belfast
Aneta Regel Deleu / Puls Contemporary Ceramics
Liliana Folta / Amazing Things Art Center, Framingham
Reviving the light: Zsolnay Ceramic Design / ILIAD, NY
Bertozzi & Casoni: Regeneration / All Visual Arts, London

This month’s featured connections:

Daehyun Kim Illustrations
Mimicry Chairs by Japanese design studio Nendo
Martin Creed on My Modern Metropolis
Leslie David - Painting Please!
Tim Hawkinson - Mobius Ship
Robert Montgomery: Echoes of Voices in the High Towers
James Hoff: I’m Already a Has-Been / VI, VII, Oslo
Anna Von Mertens - Portraits

This month’s news on Ceramics Now:

New publishing schedule for print and digital
New magazine shop - 10% Sale ends December 31, 2012
We hit 25000 followers on Tumblr (27600 now)
Published Calendar of Ceramic Art Competitions for 2013

Next month’s news: Ceramics Now Exhibition - 3rd edition

Carol Gouthro: Anthozoa gouthroii “Viridis”, 2012, Terrecotta clay with underglazes and glazes, 6”h. x 10.5”w .x  6.5”d

Carol Gouthro: Anthozoa gouthroii “Chromatella”, 2012, Terrecotta clay with underglazes and glazes, 6”h. x 10”w .x  6”d

Bertozzi & Casoni: Regeneration / All Visual Arts, London

Bertozzi Casoni Regeneration exhibition, All Visual Arts, London

Bertozzi & Casoni: Regeneration / All Visual Arts, London
October 13 - November 10, 2012

Private view: October 12, 7-9 pm.

All Visual Arts are proud to present Regeneration, a unique installation from Italian artists Bertozzi & Casoni. The artists are acclaimed for their delicate depictions of a culture in decay, deftly rendered in fragile ceramic clay. Their latest work Regeneration queries the hierarchy of aesthetics, revealing the beauty in the neglected and discarded ephemera of our seamless culture. The pieces compel the viewer to confront the visceral decay of contemporary society, to expose the cracks between the artifice of the world we are presented with and to explore what lies within these fissures. With this imaginative approach to their practice, Bertozzi and Casoni align the traditional with the experimental, and allow us to construct our own narrative around their evocative scenes.

Bertozzi and Casoni manipulate the indistinction between the real and the simulacrum in their work, an obsession for detail which evokes the Decadent taste for imitation and crafted artifice as superior to the natural. In fabricating these visually and emotionally compelling still-lifes, the artists engage the viewer in deeper themes of impermanence and mortality. Through rendering the abject and overlooked in such exquisite detail, Bertozzi and Casoni signal the return of the repressed, the avoidance of our own mortality. In one piece in which the memento mori is explicitly rendered, an ox skull is dominated by a vivid monitor lizard, symbolic of both death and rebirth in its habitat across Asia and Australia. In the antonymously titled DisGRACE, vibrant blooms sprout from the polluted detritus of a decadent and avaricious society, a scene of nature triumphing over the excesses of hyper-capitalism.

Regeneration contemplates the possibility of change through rebirth, rediscovery and reappropriation, manipulating earth into elegant and fragile structures. In one piece, a cluster of butterflies flock to raise the severed head of a deer from an ornamental platter, recalling the Renaissance representations of John the Baptist or Holofernes. In a similar echo of classical scenes, and dominating the Regeneration is the serene image of a silverback gorilla resting in the Buddhist lotus position on a bed of discarded mattresses. A roe deer lies prone across its body, while wrens and goldcrests commune around the pair. The piece is an evocation of symbolic power, from the visceral confrontation of our Darwinian descendent dying out in front of our eyes, to the shift between the viewer and sculpture, object and subject as we find ourselves caught in the compassionate gaze of the animals. Our own mortality is inscribed in the tableaux where urban structures, religion and the animal world collide to reveal the grace in disgrace which Bertozzi and Casoni seek to capture.

It seems appropriate that the duo push their material to its limits and question the possibility of representation in their work at every turn. Their liberal accumulation and compilation of cultural references is evident in the playful amalgamation of objects in a work where a swordfish’s head juts from a guitar case; the shapes tessellating the natural with the cultural. Their curiosity and playful approach to objects creates a process of continual experimentation and discovery, freeing themselves from convention and the stereotypes of the ornamental and domestic associated with the ceramic medium, and producing unexpected moments of pathos and humour through their synthesis of past and present, nature and artifice. The artists subvert the established rules about the perception of applied arts through inverting the symbolic power of their traditional medium, exceeding the inherent conservativism of ceramics to sculpt fantastic and grotesque scenes that liberate both the artist and viewer’s imagination.

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Ellen Schön

Ellen Schon ceramics, Featured artist on Ceramics Now Magazine

Ellen Schön's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

“I have always been interested in the ability of a ceramic vessel to point to something beyond itself—to function as metaphor. Ceramic vessels, physically structured with necks, shoulders, bellies, and feet, can evoke the gesture and anthropomorphized stance of the human body; they also reveal deep aspects of human experience and of the natural world.

My fervent interest in clay vessels has led me to explore new territories in form and surface. Recent work explores three variations on the ceramic vessel form:

The ceramic vessel as a Wellspring or Womb, with possibilities of both fecundity and barrenness;
The vessel as Bottle, whose forms evoke the elongated posture of Cycladic idols and the scarified texture of Yoruba terracotta heads;
The Planet Series explores swirling colored surfaces on rounded orbs, suggesting planets and depths of earthly strata.

These series represent different but related expressive interests. Each piece in a series is part of a continually evolving solution to a set of questions or parameters I have chosen to work within. The parameters, themselves, may change as the series evolve.

Through spontaneous handling of inanimate clay, I attempt to find and breathe life into form. My creative process is grounded in reflective practice—imposing ideas on and listening to the material in cycles of learning. The material directs me as I direct it. We are in a reciprocal relationship.” Ellen Schon

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Ellen Schön:
Cycladic Bottle (green comb), 2011, Stoneware, 16” x 7” x 7” (left)
Cycladic Bottle (green stripe), 2011, Stoneware, 16” x 7” x 7” (right)