‘Earthbound’ presents six contemporary artists working with ceramics: a medium of rotations and revolutions, inextricable from the human experience.
Ceramics is one of the most ancient and far-travelled traditions across the world. It is used widely as a comparative tool to differentiate time periods within the archaeological record, and is so entrenched within the anthropogenic experience that numerous early mythologies feature the creation of human life from clay. Shapes, materials, characters and colours reference the course of human action, and within it the personal histories, misfires, cracks and breaks.
As contemporary art, ceramics has seen a major revival in both rural and urban communities, with a harkening to the handmade, slowness, and careful consideration of custom glazes that are irreversible once fired. With a range of approaches, including hand building, coiling and wheel-thrown centrifugal processes, the practices of these artists are reflective of the medium's simultaneous softness, strength and endurance through intense heat. These sensibilities are both of the human artist and of the earth in their hands.
Curated by Hannah Gee, the exhibition brings together perspectives on the medium that go beyond the functional, and highlight a tenderness of tactility, and bravery in experimentation.
Wilson’s works for Earthbound include previous Touch Studies as well as new works investigating concepts of mark-making - remnants or impressions from the process of working with clay and earth, ultimately honouring a mindset of discovery and acceptance . The ‘Touch Studies’ were born from a longing to collapse the hierarchy between the making process and the final work. These studies are purely instinctual, physically generated within 5-15 seconds before considered “enough”. They are beginnings, sensitive explorations, traces of human touch alluding to the softness and tactuality of the clay. Some preserve the makers mark - thumbprints, palmprints - evidence of impetus, whilst others are heavily glazed and buried within the kiln - depictions of the chemical reactions and firing process. I chose to consciously pause in the choreography of the making process, to observe and form an acceptance of something that is only half-completed, or even only just beginning. It is a rare occurrence to pause at the beginning of something.
Other, more established works utilise the soft clay as a kind of record of the movement, layering, passing of time and compounding of material within the studio process. These forms have stemmed from a longing to unearth the value of the process and the medium, beyond the functional or expected.