I’ve been developing an idea based on buoys (the kind that are often used by boats, or on fishing nets) and particularly the broken and tangled versions I sometimes found washed up on the beach. I wanted to make something that took elements of the buoy and the open shape of a vessel. I also wanted to combine the made object with found objects – principally the curls and tangles of fishing wire and rope that I find on Newhaven beach and often end up taking home.
I made the body of the shapes by throwing a vessel, then turning the base and adding a ‘handle’ (the results shown in my last post). The dark terracotta adds a distinctive look to the fired piece.
I then added the found bundles of fishing wire and intertwined some ceramic beads and other fired pieces into the bundle, blurring the lines between objects tangled in the wire and objects deliberately placed there.
Two of the finished pieces are now heading off to an exhibition entitled ‘Vessels’ being held at Making Space in Havant. The pieces seem quite fitting for a show that celebrates the different meaning of the term vessel.
As I was going to St Ives
On the theme of buoys, I recently went to St Ives and visited an exhibition there by American installation artist Mark Dion. I’ve seen some of his work on the ‘Thames Dig’ at Tate Britain in the past and loved his sense of making collections and forming museum-like displays from found (and often discarded or everyday) objects. The St Ives exhibition ‘The Maritime Artist’ is at the Porthmeor Studios which is an intriguing mix of artist’s spaces and working (and disused) fishing cellars. The installation featured a vast array of buoys and other fishing equipment hung up in a disused pilchard cellar. The result was a quite convincing display that belied its intentional construction. It blurred the lines between what was installation and what was real, but it blended in so well with its surroundings, it could almost have been overlooked as a piece of art. That was perhaps its intention.
Whilst in St Ives I also (of course) visited The Leach Pottery and the Barbara Hepworth museum. Both offer a chance to see their works, but also to glimpse the artists’ workshops, as if they’d just left them to pop out for some shopping. I love feeling this sense of connection with a maker, even when they’re no longer around. I think I like seeing this kind of display of tools and workshops almost more than the finished works, although Barbara Hepworth’s garden with its monumental sculpture is possibly the most magical and lovely place I’ve been to in a long time. I’ve been twice now, but could just go again and again.