b. 1960

porcelain as painting with light

fig. Katherine glenday, black sentries (2021)

Katherine Glenday_Clay Formes by Art Formes_book_contemporary clay

Katherine Glenday lives and works in her Kalk Bay studio (Cape Town) and exhibits all around the world. The material, imaginary, and interpersonal resonances of porcelain have remained central to Glenday’s practice since the early 1980s. Formally and conceptually emphasising the porousness of borders and skins, the artist’s vessels defy categorisation. They extend into the most translucent edges of what we think porcelain should be able to do and are continuously coming into being in the blur between “the sacred” and the kitchen sink – both impossibly perfect and always just about to shatter. These clayworks resound; they make sound tangible, stretched like a tympanic membrane. Her solo exhibitions have been housed in Cape Town, Johannesburg, New York, and London.

katherine glenday

b. 1960 (cape town, western cape)

porcelain as painting with light

Katherine Glenday’s virtuosic control of the medium gives rise to a paradoxical relinquishing. Her vessels drop out of an ongoing exchange between the hands and the clay and the fire of the kiln. Without being reduced to symbol, the skins and material resonances of porcelain act as entry points into the rest of the world. The vessel becomes a literal echo chamber for light and sound, stillness and movement, the unsaid conversation, and the echoes that locate and outlast it. The artist has alternatively described her use of porcelain as “painting with light” – the lightwaves, the sea in Kalk Bay, and the waves of sound and silence too. Sound is a sensory experience that does not allow us to choose or turn away. At least more than touching and seeing – the world of the auditory moves through us without any concern for illusions of autonomy or separateness within a skin. Reinstating a porousness that was always there, many of Glenday’s vessels literally act as gongs for sounding out and filling shared space. Exceeding the borders of their visible “selves”, these resonant forms allow us to wonder, without language, what it might mean to find one’s own shape or voice, without possibly turning away from the plurality of voices that move through each of us.

Although defined by multiple voices and material resonances across four decades, Glenday’s practice might still be described as strongly autobiographical. In moths, light and resonance, we encounter a porous narrating of the Self in relationship. Always in process, between “home” and studio spaces, in very smooth surfaces and in the things washed up in the sink of the sea. It is a great tumultuousness, poised on the brink of itself in porcelain. Glenday’s porcelain vessels – the formidable canon of them, the wings and the openings – are perhaps, more than anything, like this. An offering of a withness or a throughness for seeing the world, or for sounding it into existence.

“The bowls ring with disparate tones, curling around each other, curiously soft. The relationship between form and sound is a circuit. Glenday’s works are inherently sonic, they are the vessels against which the world breaks.”

Katherine Glenday_Clay Formes by Art Formes_book_contemporary clay

fig. katherine glenday in her kalk bay studio (2022)

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Clay Formes

contemporary clay from south africa

CLAY FORMES is the first of its kind: a survey of contemporary clay from South Africa. This volume, through exquisite photography and literary essays, showcases multiple generations of living South African artists, each innovating the potentialities of clay and ceramics. This publication offers enthusiasts and collectors a glimpse into the studios of thirty important South African artists and opens a window into the complexity of each body of work, revealing the richness of both contemporary clay and ceramic tradition within South African art.

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This publication has sought to reflect its subject: to be as fluid as water and as weighty as earth. All this is done in the hopes of leaving behind a fresh approach to this manifold medium, and of presenting to the world the previously unexplored richness of sculptural clay in South Africa.

Dedicated to contemporary clay and ceramics from South Africa. The first publication of its kind, published by Art Formes.