Friday, 30 January 2009

Every pitcher tells a story or 'nostalgia isn't what it used to be'

These titles are telling they are from’ pop’ songs that have ideas hidden within their familiar form. Songs whose meaning may not be revealed even after countless listenings but are ubiquitous in our daily lives, whose forms (verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, verse, chorus and so on) are so familiar that we expect little from them. This is the sphere in which I want my work to ‘operate.’


I borrow forms from ceramic history that are so familiar to us they have become what Grayson Perry calls ‘classical invisible’, forms which can be used in the manner of a Trojan Horse with which to ‘smuggle in serious and sincere comment.‘ The forms I’m interested in are generally from the period at the start of the industrial revolution when cheap ornamental ceramics became available to the masses, A time when Clement Greenberg argued that  ‘the new urban masses set up a pressure on society to provide them with a kind of culture fit for their own consumption. To fill the demand of the new market, a new commodity was devised: ersatz culture, kitsch’ 

The forms are then decorated with images pertaining to the particular idea or narrative I want to ‘get across.’ The manner or style of decoration is also sourced from the same period exploiting  that which Garth Clark refers to as the ‘cozy familiarity’ of the family China. My own commentary is ‘hidden’ amongst the decoration. My re-reading of these objects is tied up in notions of the handmade. The objects I am fascinated by were originally industrially designed, manufactured and decorated. I am making and decorating those objects by hand with few tools. I am not aiming for postmodern pastiche but for a different reading of these objects.


Again there are parallels with song, particularly folk, country and blues, which are all, interlinked, have a traditional base and have a history running parallel with Modernist developments in music. Contemporary artists dip into these oeuvre borrowing melody, lyric and theme. Indeed Blues (and Jazz) musicians have a history of ‘quoting’ other songs within their own songs. It’s appropriation, but not as we know it. Grayson Perry for example, employs ‘song’ in his work along with ‘social commentary’ and the vernacular of pottery. On Perry’s urn titled ‘We’ve Found the Body of Your Child’ (2000) the artist blends Tom Waits song Geogia Lee and Breughel's painting Hunters in the Snow.’


My studio practice often employs song lyrics as a source of narrative and of decoration. This practice has been borrowed from Greek’ red and black’ vases whose bodies were covered with Mythological images and texts


Anonymous said...

Thanks a really interesting read

carole epp said...

beautifully expressed.