Jane Norbury: Queules, 2017
Queules. Sculptures made for the Architectural Museum of Bibracte, Mt Beauvray, France for the project Timelines, 2017
On the south-east and south-western terraces of the museum, Jane Norbury presents her new series of sculptures, Queules, inspired by these strange vegetal formations characteristic of Mount Beuvray, beech trees formerly interwoven in layed hedges which have subsequently broken free again. The burgeoning forms of certain of these sculptures contrast with the rigour of the architecture for which they were conceived. At first glance, they remind us of these woody excrescences, but the process of creation itself reflects this botanical history. Indeed, just as the Morvan beech grows between the constraint of the form imposed by the hedge to which it belonged and its fiercely free nature, the formal dynamism of these sculptures arises from the contrary forces which shape them. The work of creation is articulated in a dialogue between the artist and her favoured material clay, fired in reduction between 1050 and 1100 degrees. If preparatory works, in the form of maquettes, fix the initial idea, the nature of the clay when worked then imposes its own direction. Jane Norbury, a fine connoisseur of ceramic techniques, chooses here to experiment and to allow the matter to surprise her. For the first time, she uses clay from the Landes, whose resistance allows her to create large scale works. However, the dimensions of the pieces sometimes lead to unforeseen reactions of the material, which she welcomes as a challenge from which to improvise.
The Queules, all resolutely organic, differ in their forms, in turn mineral, vegetal or almost animal. If the first of the series seem smooth and polished, roughness soon appears. The clay is pushed from inside to outside, creating a rugged bark-like surface. The texture is obtained by scraping; allowing the small stones and the grog present in the clay to scratch the surface, a white slip then sometimes underline these asperities. The more controlled forms of the first sculptures are shaken by an energy that seems to come from within. Little by little, they emancipate themselves and stand up. Here, the Timeline is to be found in the entire series, each of its ten sculptures marking an evolution, inseparable from the time that has elapsed.
Text by Anne Yanover, 2017