Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ceramic sculpture

click photos to enlarge
I find my visits to the National Centre for Craft and Design (NCCD) at Sleaford, Lincolnshire, hit and miss affairs. Sometimes I am delighted, excited, provoked, intrigued and surprised. On other occasions I am bored, bewildered, depressed, disheartened, and affronted. My recent visit to see the main gallery exhibition of Gordon Baldwin's ceramic sculptures definitely fell into the second category. After viewing the pieces, looking at the curatorial commentary, listening to the artist on a video, and reading quotations by him I left, regretting that I had devoted time to the experience. On this occasion I won't elaborate on my reasons for feeling that way because I can think of little to say that is positive, a situation that I can recall occurring only once before when I briefly viewed an exhibition of Vivienne Westwood shoes.

One of the virtues of the NCCD is that there are two further exhibition spaces: a smaller top-floor room (The Roof Gallery) and the stairwell (Window Space), so if you are disappointed by one exhibition you can hope that you'll discover something to enjoy elsewhere. Unfortunately I found the offering at the top of the building - "Class of 2012" -  only minimally diverting. However, the exhibits on the landing, window ledges and walls of the stairwell were much more interesting. They were the work of an Italian ceramic sculptor, Pina Lavelli. She had created small, white shapes with surfaces that resembled leaf cell structures or some other plant texture. These fractal-like patterns didn't cover all the shapes so they contrasted with the remaining smooth roundedness. Other white, pebble-like shapes were gathered in black openwork wire spheres. The pieces stood on surfaces in groups as sculpture or were fixed to flat white frames to form relief pictures. Plants had inspired the artist, and one could see that connection, but the beautiful, unsullied whiteness of many of the pieces most closely resembled, to my mind, water-worn pebbles, pumice stone, perhaps sea-urchin shells or, to return to plants, newly-appeared toadstools and mushrooms.

I took a few quick snaps of the exhibits and show here a closeup, two of the spheres and a photograph of a relief. The latter I shot at an angle, showing only part of the artwork and I included a segment of a nearby wall light. I left the NCCD as I usually do, glad that I'd gone, and ready for the next exhibitions be they good, bad or indifferent.

photographs © Tony Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12.1mm (57mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: 2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/100
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On