Contemporary works at Cardiff Museum: Searching for the perfect object.

A view of selected contemporary works found in the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.
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This collection of porcelain pots, titled “Porcelain Wall” by Edmund de Waal was created specifically for the museum. Although they appear to be similar they have been glazed using seventeen different recipes and each piece has indented marks left by the maker, which makes each piece individual and unique. The concept for the makers marks has come from a fascination with studio pottery and the marks each leaves on a piece. I think this works well as a concept, as it hints at the idea of mass production but is kept behind glass, never to be touched.

 

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Paul Emmanuel’s “Fleece Paintings” are something I first encountered during his exhibition in 2011 at Oriel Myrddin in Carmarthen. The use of found objects, the fleece collected from the rural hills and farms of the Welsh landscape, in this way is individual to the artist. The styling of the fleece in a similar manner to human hair anthropomorphises the sheep fleece to give a captivating combination between man made materials and the natural environment that speaks of the Welsh landscapes struggle with the sprawling urban communities.

 

IMG_2058This is a part of a series of works called “Ice Tea Pots” by Rajesh Gogna. Created in sterling silver these vessels appear to be shapes hammered from sheet metal, yet they are functional objects. I find the choice of material interesting, as they are created in silver, which hints at an object to be admired and treasured as opposed to used. It has similar connotations to the works of Memphis, as it breaks the rules of a conventional tea pot. It also breaks the boundary between high art and low art due to the alluring silver and the opposition of the functional aspect of the artefact. I feel this has many links to my work as I have been working on a similar boundary with the bronze cast light box.

 


Cardiff Museum: Searching for the perfect object.

 

 

 

 

I took a trip to Cardiff Museum to see what they have on offer. Unfortunately a large section of the contemporary art was closed, but I found a number of artefacts that were intriguing.

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This piece is an inkstand  by John Robins, its an interesting artefact as it has moveable parts and miniature bottles for ink inside. It dates back to 1792-3 where at the time having elaborate and prestigious items was a sign of belonging to a bourgeois society. The Neoclassical style of this piece means it is ornate in its design yet unemotional. The novelty of this artefact is the miniature bottles housed inside, it is almost reminiscent of the globe shaped drinks cabinets.

 

 

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These two silver egg cups date back to the Art Nouveau period and were created between 1907-08 by Arthur Mason in Birmingham. At the time many silverwares were created in a similar style to what was available from Liberty & Co, and these are inspired by pewter vases and candlesticks available at the time. What is appealing about these artefacts is that they have been carefully constructed using rivets and surface design, which nods to the Arts and Crafts Movement. I feel there is a lot of potential for working in this way as large objects and small can be created using similar techniques.

 

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This hot water jug was designed by Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co and manufactured between 1904-26. The Art Nouveau design is defined by the hammered appearance of the pewter, although the piece has been cast. It was originally a part of a set including a tea pot, coffee pot, sugar jug, milk jug and tray. The wooden detail on the handle adds a more craft feel to it rather than a mass produced factory item.

 

 

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This pomander dates back to the 17th century and was made in the Netherlands. Originally it would have been filled with a variety of perfumes to fill the many compartments. Originally this would have been used in a religious setting, it is similar in style to the large incense that is still used in Catholic churches today. The many parts and the mechanisms are what is interesting about this piece. I have found myself drawn to objects that are small in size or miniatures whilst at the museum, but really the interest is in artefacts that can become a part of a set.


A trip to the Tate Modern: Searching for the perfect object.

 

 

Naturally, after a trip to Tate Britain I decided to see what the Tate Modern has to offer as they are currently changing a number of their displays.

 

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Cy Twomby’s bronze cast assemblage sculptures have turned ephemeral collected objects into permanent assemblages. This is similar to the idea of Daniel Spoerri in the sense of using what is found, but Twomby goes that step further to bring assemblage back to the concepts of fine art sculpture. These pieces are interesting to look at and to discover the different artefacts that have been chosen to be immortalised in bronze.

 

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Terrence Koh’s piece ‘Untitled (A New World Order Lies in this Golden Age)’ consists of eight gilded glass boxes, five of which have golden sculptures which relate to the idea of bodily excretions. I find these intriguing because at first they appear to be quite perfect, but on closer inspection there are marks left behind by the maker, the gilding isn’t perfect and the artefacts within the boxes have the ability to move and crack the glass. This piece will be ever changing and evolving as it is moved and more pieces are able to change.

 

 

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I found this piece, Terracotta Circle, by Gilberto Zorio of interest as it relates to proportions of the human body without appearing to have any relation to human form. The terracotta circle encompasses the arm span of the artist whilst the glass platform with lead sits at the artists head height. The piece works well as a whole, and is autobiographical without being overly personal, like works by Tracey Emin, which is refreshing. A piece that speaks for the artist, yet can only be realised as what it is in the right conditions is appealing as it means that only its full context can be realised at certain times.

 

 

 

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IMG_1983This is Poem Wall, an interlocking collection of wooden blocks, created by Saloua Raouda Choucair to express the beauty of Arabic poetry. The interest for me is purely the structure of the piece. Using singular parts to create an artefact is also appealing, although it is also important these pieces work on their own or in smaller groups.

 


Tate Britain: Searching for the perfect object.

Tate Britain is home to many artworks that have been considered worthy of national celebration.

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Bill Woodrow’s Elephant swallows the gallery. As if the large elephant holding an automatic weapon on the wall wasn’t enough, there is also a collection of ten car doors, to represent a watering hole. The work speaks of the struggles of third world countries and the weaponising of the animals. The work has been constructed in a folk art way, which appeals to me. Creating works using found artefacts or creating something new from something that would have been discarded can create a better object than making an artefact from the beginning.

 

 

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Tony Cragg’s Stack from 1975 is another artwork that works with what has been discarded. Some of these objects were once cherished. Cragg’s work illustrates the waste of humans in an almost fossil like way, illustrating the waste as a geological find creates interest and shows the way that waste has become a part of the world. I think this piece is important to consider as it encompasses a large number of artefacts. It sucks you in and makes you look for objects, the deeper you look the more there is to find; and a piece that keeps revealing is something that could lure you in for many years.

 

These pieces speak volumes about human consumption and I think they deserve a place in the run for the perfect object.


Highlights from the V and A: Searching for the perfect object.

I find that some of the most interesting pieces the V and A has on display are the moderns works, which are located in rooms 74, 74a and 75. This is the collection that is the most changing, each time I visit there are new wonders.

 

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This is A Set of Stacking Storage Boxes: Kubus-Geschirr (Cube Wear) which was first made by the Vereinigte Lausitzer Glaswerke around 1938. It was conceived by Wilhelm Wagenfeld, who was an important member of the Bahaus before his career as an industrial designer.

The curved edges of these industrial glass multipurpose containers add elegance to a simple kitchen staple. The way they fit and their stackability make them an innovation of their time, they preceded tupperware, which was not invented until 1946. Aside from their use they are also appealing to look at and would not be out of place in any kitchen. I think these are a design classic and something that will never go out of date.

 

 

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Chest of Drawers: ‘You Can’t Lay Down Your Memories’ was conceived in 1991 by Tejo Remny and was included in Droog Design’s first collection in 1993. What is interesting about this is that it is one of Droog’s most successful products and has become a part of many museums collections; yet each is unique. The idea of the designer was to create a chest using found drawers with a new lease of life by giving them new wooden housing. The greater vision of this piece is to create a paradise from what we encounter, in a Robinson Crusoe manner.

 

 

IMG_1862Chair Bench by Gitta Gschwendtner is inspired by the chairs in the V and A ‘s furniture collection. The bench was created in 2012 after months of measuring and carving to create a piece that speaks for the collection. the chairs are almost submerged into the seat of the bench. The work gives choice, of where to sit through deciding which is to be our “favourite” chair. It creates conversation and discussion of taste. Her website is also packed with design gems, from unique lighting concepts to whimsical door stops (http://www.gittagschwendtner.com/object_frameset.html).

This piece is young, yet it holds a lot of history, which is overwhelming for fairly simple concept. Droog have a similar concept available, but I believe it speaks more of a divide between materials and sustainability and our comfort and needs as consumers as opposed to our heritage of furniture. The design is simpler, three chair backs to be fixed to a felled trunk (http://www.droog.com/webshop/furniture/tree-trunk-bench/).

 

 

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These works are by Markku Salo, a Finnish artist specialising in glass but including mixed media materials such as metal, stone and wood. The piece on the left is a part of the artists animal collection in which the bottle like forms are blown into a metal frame to allow them an animal like pose. The second piece, Matka Troijaan (the journey to Troy), is a moveable glass vessel encased in a projective housing. These pieces stood out in the glass rooms, although they are not functional, yet they hint at the possibility. The colours and juxtaposition of the smooth glass and rough metals make them unique in comparison to the polished and gawdy collection kept at the V and A.

These four examples will also be considered as the perfect object.


In search of the perfect object.

As a summer project I have been asked to discover the perfect object and consider its function, the materials used, its craftsmanship and my connections with the artefact.

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I decided to begin where I left off at the end of last year by looking at lighting concepts from the 20th century up to the present day. I find these artefacts intriguing, but they are lacking in unconventionality.Each has interesting features, such as the light at the top, which can be altered with movement, this kinetic feature is of interest. Also, the light underneath this one which moves in a similar way to an angle poise, but through using a ball and joint mechanism as opposed to using the springs and pulleys.

This light has more novelty value than the others, and I think this is why I am more drawn to it.

IMG_1834This is the Bibibibi Lamp by German designer Ingo Maurer in 1982. It has been created using porcelain, metal and plastic; three materials which I use myself, which is where the interest stems. The mismatch of materials, the cheap and the more desirable is something I want to further explore. Also the whimsical, this light seems like it may walk off at any moment, thirty years ago when this light was more of a comment about the seriousness of design. But now an artefact like this could become so much more, it could be an interactive; it could become an artefacts that could be told where to produce light.

I think an object like this has potential, and so I’m going to “shortlist” it for my research.