Keramika

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29 August – 16 September, Hastings Community Art Centre, Scott Brough, Piers Greenaway and Karen Greenslade, students of Keirunga Arts & Crafts Centre and Otago Polytechnic

With more than 100 works in the exhibition, it is the larger works that immediately spring to attention, reinforced by the placing of the very powerful ceramic form by Jill Kennett at the top of the stairs.

This large form (#24) feels totally assured in its making; punctuated by two holes resembling anchor connection points it has a sense of a large shell form.  A near-monotone red-brown colour helps delineate the strong vertical form and the sweeping lines.  That she has made two other similar works shows this is not a ‘one off’ and you sense she has real ability with large forms in clay.

At the other extreme of the scale game, Piers Greenaway has two groups of very small abstracted figures (#116 – 119), all moulded, and mounted on wooden plinths. Each is glazed quite differently yet there is a sense of coherence in these works which is captivating.

However for me, they were displayed too low. They would have benefitted from a higher plinth which would have given them a greater sense of monumentality, despite their diminutive size.

In an interesting juxtaposition with the other big ceramic show on at present in Hastings, the Martins anagama fired work at Parlour Projects, Scott Brough shows what can occur on the clay surface when really hammered by the fire and ash of a wood kiln.  In #64 there is a raw crustiness where ash has settled and not quite melted, creating a pot that could have easily been excavated from an ancient kiln site.  This work is the antithesis of the Martin pots where the surfaces are tame by comparison, with little hint of the power of ash and fire.

Another trio of works to jump out were the pit fired forms of Karen Greenslade (#3 a – c).

Pit firing is a random affair (bizarrely not unlike anagama firing, but at a much lower temperature), but the colours that result are often remarkable. In these works one can see where oxides have burnt and flashed along the sides, where the ash has settled and deposited carbon spots or patches, and these tall simple forms have a quiet but strong presence in the gallery.

The number of works exhibited could have done with a serious cull to focus attention on the really good work, and perhaps a rethink on how to display ceramics is in order.  A visit to Parlour Projects would be a good step in that direction. But it is exciting to see these three young potters setting out on their journey. Showing quite different techniques and styles, it will be very interesting to seeing how they develop in the future.

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