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.


Raku results.


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These are the beautiful results of the raku kiln I did today. I’ve used a white crackle tin glaze with a copper matt and a copper glossy glaze. The matt I had not used before, the results are better than I expected them to be. The colours could have been more vivid if the flames were fanned for longer, but I wanted to smoke them for the white crackle to develop. If I refired them I could improve the results, but as I have decided not to use them as the final piece I will not be doing that in the time I have left.

The copper gloss glaze has come out better than I could have hoped for. I wanted the purple and blue to be prominent as they are the colours associated with the celtic deity Arianrhod. I chose to put the copper on the bottom because it has texture that will be unexpected and cannot be thoroughly looked at because of the design. It keeps the mystery of the Celtic deities and reminds us of the unknown.


Mashrabiya

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The final outcome of my ‘Global Cultural Collaboration’ field project.

I have created a material that mimics and reverses the idea of the traditional mashrabiya found in Islamic culture. Usually found in windows and door ways to add privacy to homes I have turned this idea around with the influence of the traditional Berber home with wide open windows and views of the Atlas Mountains.

The piece was hard to put together with all the fiddly wooden pieces that fill the holes in the laser cut perspex. However, completing the piece and cleaning it up to give it a high standard finish was pretty rewarding.

This material has a lot of potential. It could work as a large piece to fill a window, in keeping with it’s intended purpose. It could also be used in lighting, as the warm wooden pieces create a contrast against the cold, clean Perspex. The differing materials work well together, the wood is a nod to tradition – something that is highly regarded in Morocco. Whilst the Perspex is almost a development of the classic style of mashrabiya found in the cities.


PDP/Reflections on Constellation.

After the first term, constellation changed and we were asked to start thinking about themes and topics to study for dissertations and also the type of dissertation to be completed. Currently, I am hoping to complete the artefact and text style, as I believe that the topics I am now looking at relate to my practice.

 

Deciding on a topic to start to research for my dissertation was a long process. I began with the idea of looking into the commercialisation of art and the crossover into design. The influence of this was the Field module I was taking part in at the time, “Limited Edition.” Previous interests from my art foundation in Pop Art and collections and multiples of artefacts resurfaced and I was able to build on these. Being a part of the Maker course means that you are often asked to define yourself and your practice, this is something that has also influenced further research and the idea I am currently exploring. Whether the way that you define yourself as an artist limits your potential or adds value to your work is something of interest to me. In this context I am learning more about the avant-garde and historical references leading to a social change in the art community and why it is separate from everyday society.

 

This year has enabled me to realise how my practice can influence my interests in theory, as the option I chose last year for constellation didn’t really inform my practice and became something I struggled to relate to. It has allowed me to revisit some of my earlier works before I began my degree and the influences I explored. These are now very relevant to the work I am producing.


Packaging.

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The nature of the module suggests that a form of “brand identity” would be encouraged. I decided to make some novelty business cards that pop out to create a miniature version of the light. I also chose to laser cut some packaging and etch some information onto it. I chose to keep it plain and simple with space for the product to be fixed in a flat pack format. I wanted to mimic the packaging you find at shops like Ikea where you take home your purchase and build it. DIY can give a sense of satisfaction, and I wanted to give this value to my artwork. I have created something you can build yourself at home.