Image Above – Pieces from Brownsword’s, Salvage Series. Image Source.
The Transmission lecture this week brought Neil Brownsword, who discussed his works surrounding ceramics. He started by mentioning Stoke on Trent, the ‘Ceramic Capital’ of the UK, known for its pottery industry.
Stoke on Trent would later be mentioned in the lecture as a setting for a collaborative project, where a few artists were asked to create work in and around the ‘Spode work factory’ in stoke.
Brownsword discussed many of his projects in the lecture but there were two in particular that interested me. The fist was titled, ‘Salvage Series’ 2005 (pictured above), in which he used found fragments of ceramics/pottery, mainly 19th century, Wares, Saggars, Kiln props and deformations unearthed from my own back yard, he lists in his paper ‘Action-Reflection Tracing personal developments’. From these fragments he placed them back into the kiln, giving them a new identity and lease of life. ‘The beauty of the discarded fragments fascinated me and raised the issues on how we decide the value of certain objects’. I really liked the concept and results of this project, upcyclying something beyond repair, creating really interesting shaped objects. This work really shows the respect and love Brownsword has for his medium and materials, which is so often taken for granted.
The second project I really admired was, ‘National Treasures’ 2013, which was part of site specific work at the ‘Spode Work Factory’ in Stoke on Trent. This work was a performative instillation in which he commissioned ceramic painters to paint ruins of the building on the back of broken and found plates that was left behind at Spode. The work was these artisans at work, where the viewer would witness each artisan occupy a painting station space at a time. Video of this piece can be viewed below:
I really loved how Brownsword exhibited these artists who are so often overshadowed and forgotten about, this piece gave them the recognition they deserved for creating such a wonderful intricate ceramic adornments. Again, I also admired the upcycling aspect of this piece, painting scenes of ruins onto ruins is really quite poetic.
This lecture was really enjoyable, seeing how Neil Brownsword took a lost/diminishing art and contemporised it, knowing there are all these varied possibilities and seeing how Brownsword was so positive about the material, made this a lecture to remember. I am so pleased to say that I have a ceramics workshop coming up this semester and this lecture has made me really eager to start it.
Neil Brownsword – https://thingnessofthings.wordpress.com/contributors-2/neil-brownsword/