It might not be the obvious choice for a summer exhibition but there is something very fitting about having a ceramics show at The Civic during this time of year. It conjures up images of Greyson Perry in a summer dress, the plethora of arts and crafts shows that swamp (fingers crossed…) sunny Yorkshire and even the baking of Catalonian clay by masters such as Picasso. And though Barnsley wasn’t a pottery town, we know how to get our hands dirty.
In Situ is one of the free exhibitions gracing The Civic throughout July and August. British Studio Ceramics is currently undergoing somewhat of a revival right now and despite this time of austerity, the sale of arts still flourishes; with no drop in the amount of buyers willing to put their money into art for their homes. And of course more and more people are now taking this chance to start small businesses or to kick-start the sales of their own art.
And so here, in a ‘for sale’ exhibition we see a wide range of artists whose practises vary in style from the traditional British, the modern European and the more experimental expressionist. Many of the exhibiting artists have also toured their work throughout both the UK and internationally.
I’m only going to mention a couple of the artists disaplyed here. You can discover the rest yourself. My personal favourites though are Craig and Ikuko Iwamoto. For me it seemed that Craig used ceramics as a medium for his art rather than being a simple artisan producing ceramics for the home. It seems that if he were to produce a painting, they wouldn’t look too different. Each single work seems to tell a story; using texture, text and shape to convey memories tucked away inside each vessel. It’s as if Cy Twombly or Jean Michel Basquiat has gone down the ceramic route like Picasso did.
Ikuko Iwamoto; originally from Japan, now lives and works in London after graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2006. Walking past her solid white ceramics sat inside their disaply cases, they looked somewhat like marble sea urchins sat at the bottom of an aquarium. Each piece is intricately detailed with spikes and dots and each is in fact made to be entirely functional.
CAROL HARRIES-WOOD – THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Artist Carol Harries-Wood has two pieces of work displayed; as almost an exhibition within and exhibition. ‘There’s No Place Like’ focuses on issues around the word ‘home and of aspects of memory within the domestic sphere. Along one wall of the gallery is displayed a vast number of sculpted houses sat aloft small wooden brackets; each made from a different material. The materials used explored the metaphoric connotations of the medium but also of how that meaning can shift when thought of in relation to the house. Hear you will find houses made from wood, wax, coffee, soap and even the contents of a hoover bag! Each house is a work in its own right and so There’s No Place Like Home holds many meanings and evokes many thoughts of domestic bliss, struggles, bills, gender stereotypes, the body and some of them even remind me of works by Louis Bourgeois and Joseph Beuys.
…and it’s not until you stand back you notice the staggered layout of the houses. Carol says that it is musical notation and although she didn’t specify what the piece of music was, she does admit that it also follows the theme of the house.
On an adjacent wall is another ‘house’ installation, produced specifically with this Barnsley based exhibition in mind. A series of seven sculptures depict the various industries of our towns past and the working lives on which our town was built. I’ll leave you to try to figure out what each is sculpture is made out of.
RYAN VODDEN – LIFE BOXES 1-4
Ryan Vodeen’s monolithic steel sculptures occupy the Panorama at The Civic. Life Boxes 1-4 stand juxtaposed with small maquets and a series of work on paper. Ryan’s has recently exhibited in a group exhibition called Borderline Ballardian over at Sheffield’s C.A.D.S. , a show exploring the psychological effects of technological, social and environmental developments on British Society and prior, he even worked for Damien Hirst.
Here though we see Barnsley based Ryan explore notions of the ‘self’ and its relationship with mind and body. Through the works exhibited he tried to visualise his own understanding of confinement within the body. I managed to speak to Ryan about his work and his opportunity to exhibit at The Civic.
“My Life Boxes came out of a project I started towards the end of my degree which looked at the mind/body relationship and the weight and sensation of occupying the volume of your own body. They are all based on my own body dimensions; height, width and depth. The drawings, prints and maquets all came after these sculptures were made and are all ideas for future works and of how this can be taken further.”
I asked him to tell me a little bit more about the prints. “It’s about superimposing those Life Boxes onto other arenas. Here I wanted to see how they play with this space as they have only ever been displayed somewhere else once. I wanted to see how they might look in an outdoor setting, so the 2D work incorporate locations like the viaduct between Cudworth and Stairfoot, Monk Bretton Priory and also Skipton Castle.”
I thought it would be interesting to see them in Mandela Gardens. They are really imposing and it would be great to see the way their shadows would interact with the environment. They reminded me of the way Antony Gormely uses his body in his sculpture. He says, ‘I think they’re quite intimidating. I think I did something right with that in mind.’
The Civic curator David Sinclair approached Ryan in regards to supporting his work last year and offered him the Panorama Space. ‘I’m absolutely chuffed to bits about having an exhibition here. The Civic have been really kind to me. It’s nice to see my work in a different environment. It would be wonderful if someone would offer me the chance to display them outdoors too.’
And you can see more of his work on his websites:
Ryan Vodden’s Life Boxes 1-4 and In Situ will be displayed until 31st August.