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Exhibition notes & thoughts at the Victoria & Albert Museum

'Combining three-dimensional form with surface pattern and colour provides ceramic artists with a vast field of possibilities. For many artists, the exploration of these formal concerns provides the main focus of their work’.

‘The emphasis on proportion, volume and surface can result in minimalist work of great clarity and precision. Traces of the making may be eliminated, or used in carefully restricted ways for particular effect. Visually, such work might suggest an association with architecture, or with the clean lines of product design.’

 


The work is largely about itself, about the qualities that give it substance and make it appear as it does, rather than any other additional ideas external to the work. Wonderfully monolithic pieces, physically imposing and with real presence. 

 

  

- Nicholas Rena, 'Red Bowl' 2009 & 'The Given's the Given' 2008

 

In this case though (below), the maker has tried to use pattern to deny or to ‘camouflage’ the form, or as he puts it ‘activating the relationship between form and surface’ - Martin Bodilsen Kaldahl, 'Dazzle Vessel 3’ 2003

 

 


Unlike this previous vessel, the large work in the next picture (below) which ‘stands like a decorated oil drum’, uses classically inspired drawings to metaphorically refer to issues of war both past and present. The form itself has meaning, but is also used as a canvas on which to further tell its story in graphics and text. - Stephen Dixon, 'Laocoon' 2001 - 2002

 

 


Above the work on display, the lofty domed ceiling has a small balcony around its circumference that is lined with plain glazed vessels, neutral, yet creating a subtle and easily overlooked frieze high above your head.

- Nick C

 

 

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