ESSAY ARCHIVE 

SIDEWAYS FROM THE FORME ITSELF

MATERIAL & MEDIUM

A material series on the medium of clay. A medium that is both earth, eggshell, skin, bone.

DIGGING UP AN ANCESTOR | CLAY AS LIMBS UNFORMED, CLAY AS ARCHIVE

by Caitlin MacDonald

Human history has been imprinted in the archive of clay. We can read the long-decomposed body in the artefacts clay has left behind, in their absences – here the cavern left by a palm, there a crescent scored by a nail. We can feel the remnants of the potter’s movements: the depth and angle of the gestures which moved the clay before it was frozen by fire or sun. Clay bears the memory of the earth itself: the impressions of fossils, the spiral ammonites and the spines of extinct creatures…

PORCELAIN | CONTEMPORARY SOUTH AFRICAN CERAMICS, ANTARCTICA & DARWIN

by Sophie Cope

This ancient hard-soft material is still everywhere. In addition to self-consciously ‘clay’ vessels and ceramic objects, it so ubiquitous that we almost don’t see it. We eat and drink from clay vessels, it coats our paper, is used in all sorts of industrial contexts for its absorbent and adhesive properties, for thermal energy storage, to plug holes in leaky dam walls. And, as we see in the collaborative work of Katherine Glenday, Christina Bryer and Claire Beynon, it might also draw us into material and imaginative dialogue with single-cell organisms in Antarctica…

CREATIVE PRACTICE

A series on creative practice and process. 

HEARTBREAK & PERFECTIONISM IN CREATIVE PRACTICE

by Sophie Cope

The pursuit of the perfect final thing can be both profoundly boring and punitive, and potentially generative in unexpected ways. In creative practices of various kinds, perfectionism’s twin is usually heartbreak, which is another double-edged source of clarity, sometimes, when given the chance. There’s nothing particularly interesting about heartbreak really, except that no-one knows what to do about it, and so we must do many things. Unlike broken legs and even literal heart organs, there isn’t an easy surgical procedure for fixing broken hearts. We don’t even know if they should be fixed. Creative practice arrives in the wake of unfixable heartbreak…

ON GAPS & TIGHTROPES IN CREATIVE PRACTICE

by Sophie Cope

The creative act is threaded through a great precariousness – a canyon of the ordinary, reconstellated. Maybe both a terror and a miracle. It’s the things in the world very close to us that have a way of flipping into the fog. In 1974, Philippe Petit walked on a highwire line between the Twin Towers, 400m above the ground…

HISTORICAL

To look back as a way of looking forward. 

JULIET ARMSTRONG | FORM AS AN EXTENSION OF SELF

by David Mann

South African ceramic artist Juliet Armstrong (1950-2012) had a unique ability to channel material and cultural histories through clay, resulting in forms both figurative and abstract, and always with a nod to the generative qualities of the natural world. Armstrong was an artist who aimed to continually puzzle out, provoke and play with the form and definition of clay…

GEORGIA O’KEEFE | TO HAVE A FRIEND TAKES TIME

by Caitlin MacDonald

Hunched against a hollow high desert wind, as hard and bright as onyx, is the person of Georgia O’Keeffe. Ritual artefacts gather at her feet: her cacti and cannas, her skulls and horns and pelvic bones, her driftwood. We are left with afterimages of her cold, burning eye at the core of a flower and at the razor edge of bone…

ON FORME ITSELF

Bringing into focus the very nature of objects and formes.

TEN WAYS TO THINK ABOUT ART BOOKS | A COLLISION OF TEXT AND OBJECT IDENTITIES

by Sophie Cope

A book about art objects is also inescapably an object with a shape and a presence of its own, even if it would like to ‘simply be a text.’ Similarly, books as art objects are also texts, even if they contain no ‘actual’ writing. Surviving a collision of ‘text’ and ‘object’ identities – somehow existing as neither and both…

ON PLATENESS

Perhaps closer to a conversation than a painting or a plate…

ART FORMES celebrates local writers — as a community, we are inspired to create richer written forms as accompanying narratives for artworks & artistic practice.

FORMES OF CLAY

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