Watt’s Up? explores the relationship between ceramics and light by presenting some thirty works of art from all over the world, all created in recent years. Oddly enough, this relationship seems to inspire artists more than designers, trained to create objects such as lamps. Perhaps that’s because light transcends objects and gives us a whole new take on the world. Light affects our vision by modifying our perception of space and movement. In addition, there is a symbolic, poetic and mysterious element to it. As the French author Jean Giono once put it, very clever mysteries hide in the light. If light and ceramics go hand in hand, it’s mainly courtesy of porcelain’s unique properties of translucency, which can give light – produced by a candle or a tungsten filament – a soft, poetic aura and elicit a feeling of wonder. Ceramics offers a broad palette of sensations to play with. Faience is heavy, glossy and sensual in its interaction with light. Pottery absorbs lux units and asserts its own material plasticity to counter the intangible nature of light. Porcelain is lightweight and translucent, and the matte aspect of unglazed biscuit forms a striking contrast with the gloss of the glaze. Watt’s Up? is an unprecedented investigation of the latest innovations and know-how, both sensorial and intellectual in scope. As the topic was complex and broke new ground, it took nearly two years of research to bring these thirty or so works together. These works are by fifteen artists exhibiting for the first time in France. They are the result of technical prowess – manual and technical – as well as fresh creative thinking. None of them represent any particular school of thought, creative trend or artistic movement. Each work is an explosion of creativity, born of the artist’s reflections and inspiring a sense of wonder. This exhibition sheds new light on the art of ceramics.
“My work mainly consists of salt-fired Porcelain and Stoneware. The salt-firing process is unique in that salt is introduced into the kiln when it reaches the proper temperature (2345 degrees F for my work). Inside the kiln, the salt vaporizes and settles onto the pieces, forming its own glaze over the clay body. I also use various slips and glazes to further decorate the pots.
In my functional work, my goal is to make the pieces “special”. I hope that everyday users will appreciate being “in the moment” as they sip from their hand-made cup or enjoy soup from their favorite bowl.
My sculptural pieces all have specific meaning for me, but sometimes are just fun! I don’t wish to impose my views of the work upon others, but would rather viewers lend their own interpretation to the pieces within their own contexts and ideas. Most importantly, I hope the sculptures will inspire viewers to pause and consider how the piece relates to their lives.” Deborah Britt
“I am inspired by the urban landscapes around me, the architecture of the North and by the austere aesthetic of Flemish still-life. I like plain clay, monochrome compositions. I shape my pieces and accumulate them according to an imaginary plan, to create installations in search of the perfect balance.
I have a feeling for everyday objects, for the physical relationship we have with them (the closeness we have to them) for the way they wear out.
My work on pans enable me to confront the apparent solidity of the piece which hits the collective subconscious, with the fragility of clay.” Virginie Besengez
Virginie Besengez draws her inspiration from nature. She is interested in the movement, repetition in the landscapes that are constantly changing with the wind and the light. ‘Like a photographer I would like to capture a moment in time by creating forms and curves similar to those found in nature. The texture of the surfaces of my vessels achieved by polishing, grinding and also raku firing is very important to me.’
“I divide my time between teaching and working in my studio. I am a teacher and I’ve emphasised on texile and history in my profession. I believe my current works are inspired by and reflect my educational backdrop. My objects often carry a historical and ethnical connotation.
My inspirations are gathered from all over; my environment, the newspapers, books, fashion and the people around me. My students too are a source of inspiration because of their joyful and ingenuous worldview.
As a ceramist I have specialised in casted forms and the recycling of glass. I especially use old bottles, for which I create a new context and give a new usage. The glides is a design serie I’ve been developing the last few years. I gather their basic structure from gutter- and drainpipes. The serie consists of cups, small containers, candleholders and wall/table vases in various forms and sizes.” Guðný Hafsteinsdóttir
“Guðný Hafsteinsdóttir is a ceramic artist whose medium is not limited to clay. As her works show, her background is first and foremost Icelandic, but in addition to her studies at the Icelandic School of Art and Craft, Guðný has also studied and experienced ceramics in Denmark, Finland and Hungary.
Iceland has a great story-telling tradition and the works of Icelandic artists are often characterised by story-telling features. This also applies to Guðný’s work. Motifs of ancient traditional beliefs are reborn in her beautifully formed freedom stones. Such stones were traditionally used to help women during childbirth. Poems sometimes accompany her works, which make them more personal and add a level of sincerity. Heads of characters from the Viking era appear from glass bottles that have been given a new costume, and in similar works, Guðný flies the flag for Icelandic women. Contemporary recycling gets a new role through Guðný’s works.
But the feeling is far from one where the weight of history rests on the works. On the contrary, her newest works are characterised by lightness and gaiety. Guðný often looks to form in everyday life for inspiration for her craft works. So for example, roof gutters and raindrops are the inspiration for her newest line in cups, trays and breadboards. Here one can find both the form of raindrops and the colour of blue skies. Guðný’s work is characterised by imagination, variety, an awareness of the past and a sensitive perception of the present. Together, these qualities create colourful and thought-provoking art.” Ragna Sigurðardóttir