Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Peter Zumthor : different kinds of silence

Atemwende, a breathturn : Adam Gopnik and Edmund de Waal

Craft and Art, Skill and Anxiety.

Craft is logic, and art defies it. The defiance is what makes art. The serenity of the artisan lies in her knowledge that it can all be done again. The anxiety of the artist; lies in knowing that if it is done again, she has become an artisan. (Gopnik,2014:7)

Edmund de Waal is a maker of objects with imagined histories. (Gopnik,2014:11)

Atemwende : A breathturn.

Edmund de Waal.

The Great Glass Case of Beautiful Things:
About the Art Of Edmund de Waal
Adam Gopnik. 2013.

‘Actually, I still make pots, you know’ Edmund de Waal.

The Sensuality of the Clay Body.

‘You have to work quickly and with definition, and your ideas have to come into focus with enormous rapidity.’ Edmund de Waal, on working with the different presence demanded on ones mind and hand whilst throwing with porcelain. The practice of porcelain forced a change in colour and finish in his work. New glazes, shimmering celadon and shiny black, arrived to catch the light and send it back. (Gopnik,2014:9)

The throwing of pots still remains central to his practice. ‘The material goes down, gets wet, is pulled open by the hand, spins- and then produces, as if by magic, the most transcendently human of all made things; volume, inner space, an interior, the carved out air that connects the morning teacup with the domes and spandrels of San Marco. There’s nothing there but clay and air, then there’s defined air. (Gopnik,2014:6)

Ceramics and Architecture.
Exhibition Spaces of the Enlightenment
The Porcelain Rooms

The pot, ancient as it is, is the first instance of pure innerness, of something made from the inside out. Building objects upwards is, in its way, an obvious and brutal thing; it derives from piles, and makes pyramids. Turning objects inward, on the wheel, is a subtler one, and derives from our need to have a place to put things in. (Gopnik,2014:7)

Together these new porcelain vessels collectively produced by De Waal are an experience of possessed space.
These collections of vessels in their Modernist vitrines seem to be both an expression of the architecture of a collection and simultaneously an affirmation of an interior space that can hold the singularity of a breath within a small pot.

‘ The ceramic module that he uses, the small pot, is deliberately made as non-functional as possible.’ (Gopnik,2014:9)

‘Even if we insist on seeing them impersonally, the sheer force of their numbers creates the poetic sense inherent, as Homer knew, in all inventories. They gang up on us.’ (Gopnik,2014:9) These groupings of objects placed together produce their own narratives, their own relations, and lines of inquiry. In so doing their ordering of the space around them brings meaning to those spaces. This is reinforced through the poetry and metaphor of the effect of ceramic vessels on space, as cited by De Waal himself through Wallace Stevens’s “Anecdote of the Jar” 1919.

‘The Jar, the elemental made thing, takes dominion over the unmade world. The air around it suddenly looks “slovenly,” insufficiently jar-like. Made things remake the unmade world. (Gopnik,2014:10)

Gopnik comments that we can’t look at hollow things without sensing their hollowness, as he notes we perceive haptically as aptly as optically. This allows us to read these vessels through both our sense of sight and our sense of space. The result is that we feel these objects; we can sense the heft of them made from their weight, shape and size. We become aware that we can feel objects as much as we can see them.

De Waal’s work brings about a sensuality and an empathy manifested between the strict ordering of his presentation through his vitrines and cabinets and the fragility and grouping of his porcelain vessels. This empathy promotes our interest with the interior parts of his groupings, with the interior emptiness and mystery of things we can only sense. His control and command of the geometric spatial relations found in his installations is juxtaposed by the multitude of diminutive interiors and negative spaces.
The relations of the architectural and those of the vessel are in constant flux, held in some sort of spatial narrative that seems to meditate stillness, like the museum these vessels are protected and intact, yet strangely they are held hostage by their surroundings.
The empathy we feel for their emptiness is perhaps choreographed, staged and ultimately forced, these are not just pots as De Waal admits but pots that have been by design rendered as non-functional as possible although they still bare the marks of his franchising. This neutering of his thrown clay forms into the realm of perhaps a purely sculptural object that is itself now a mere component in his Minimalist cabinets. What remains is a hollowness, but a contrived hollowness that speaks of spaces designed not made; unlike his Signs and Wonders intervention for the V&A, these works feel orphaned and cut adrift by their surroundings.

Does? ‘His art takes a familiar grammer of display and turns it into a poetry of memory. Inside a room, a great case filled with rows of porcelain pots.Along each row, a story. Inside each pot, a breath. (Gopnik,2014:11)

Monday, 27 February 2017

Blueprint, Stained Glass, Architectural Model

Speculative Tectonics : A Poetic of Construction

Tectonics in architecture is defined as "the science or art of construction, both in relation to use and artistic design." It refers not just to the "activity of making the materially requisite construction that answers certain needs, but rather to the activity that raises this construction to an art form." It is concerned with the modeling of material to bring the material into presence: from the physical into the meta-physical world.


Situate them in such a way that useful space for life may form itself amidst them.
Kazimar Malevich 1924

Zaha Hadid on Malevich • BBC CH/4

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Hans Coper : Potter,"the experience of existence"


“I become part of the process, I am learning to operate a sensitive instrument which may be resonant to my experience of existence now.”
Hans Coper, Artist Statement 1969.

Hans Coper’s iconic assembled ceramics frame the later part of the twentieth century with an ambivalence of both alienation and reconciliation. His pots reveal differences that have resisted the homogenizing effects of the culture of the time. They embody and are a physical testament to what the potter himself has reflected on his life, “endure your own destiny”1 within the space and time of the human condition.
Born in 1920 into a prosperous middle class background, his childhood years were spent in the small town of Reichenbach in Germany. In 1935 his father Julius, is singled out like many other Jewish businessmen for harassment and ridicule under National Socialist Party. This would result in the Coper family moving frequently to escape the attention of the Nazis. Tragically in 1936 Julius takes his own life in an attempt to safeguard the future of his family. The remaining family, Erna Coper and her two sons return to Dresden. In 1939 Hans at the age of 18 leaves Germany for England, the following year he is arrested in London and interned as an enemy alien. He spends the next three years first in Canada then returns to England by volunteering to enrol in the Pioneer Corps. In 1946 a meeting with William Ohly who ran an art gallery near to Berkeley Square, brought about an opportunity for a job in a small workshop run by Lucie Rie, a refugee potter from Vienna. Hans Coper now began earnestly through his engagement with ceramics to reveal a continental modernity “whose work seemed uncomfortably abrasive to the traditionalists.”2
Hans Coper and Lucie Rie worked together at Albion Mews for 13 years forming a friendship and a working relationship that was mutually reciprocated through practical concerns, innovation and experimentation. There is a creative synergy in place through their mutual sharing of process and experimentation within the practicalities of the studio space. A documented instance of this reciprocal inventiveness is in the appropriation of the technique of “Sgraffito” which Lucie Rie employs after being inspired by some Bronze Age pottery at Avebury Museum bearing incised patterns, which are displayed with some bird bones, which may have been used as tools to incise the pottery. These “dark bowls of Avebury”3 are transposed through the use of manganese engobe and a steel needle into Lucie Rie’s ceramics, Hans Coper although not present appropriates the bird bone for the engineered steel of a pointed needle file and uses the action of an abrasive hand tool to remove layers of the manganese engobe. In this way Coper is enacting onto the surfaces of his ceramics, the very agencies that Modernism was acting out in the realms of architectural space and surface treatment of materials. In 1959 a move to Digwell Arts Trust would bring to a close his working relationship with Lucie Rie. Coper now became involved with a number of architecturally based projects through the Digswell Group of architects and building professionals. Coper’s engagement with the Digwell Group was not without problems and creative frustrations, but seen in retrospect it became an experimental period where Coper was strengthening his ability to bring his pottery into a spatial communion with the modernist architectural sensibilities of the time.  However it was a wartime friend Howard Mason who introduced Coper’s work to Basil Spence, from this introduction Hans Coper was commissioned to design the candlesticks for the new modernist cathedral at Coventry. The Six Coventry Candlesticks completed in 1962 explicitly reveal a sensitive and progressive spatial awareness to the architectonics of built spaces. The candlesticks delicately tapered and waisted are made in sections and assembled on site onto rods set into the architectural interior. These assembled thrown and fired towering forms seem to be more about a presence than their actual physicality. They appear to paradoxically transcend the monumentality of their setting through their very immateriality, their slight of form being perfectly balanced to accommodate a single candle and its temporal flame.
As a maker of pots he was in constant touch with his working process, an analogue process, a creative membrane that surrounded the agency of making and thinking. He was able to pursue his vocation “My concern is with extracting essence rather than with the experiment and exploration”4 His resultant works reflect what might be termed a “machining in” of a creative durability that is both ancient and modern that contains both tensions and fragility, and that above all seems to exist in a state of timelessness.

 His assembled “pots” are constructed from thrown components, “throwing” as a process that he remarks on “I become part of the process, I am learning to operate a sensitive instrument, which may be resonant to my experience of existence now”. It is through the wheel, the body and the interplay between clay and air that the inner space that defines the form is created. Adam Gopnik writing about the art of Edmund de Waal describes what I might be termed a spatial sensibility “the pot-ancient as it is, is the first instance of pure innerness, of something made from the inside out.”5 Hans Coper further adds sensuality to this “innerness” when he encloses it in a skin that appears archaic through a deeply physical surface treatment of engobes, incised grooves and scratching of the raw pot; then when finally once fired the dry vitreous surface is further machined and abraded to give a graphite-like sheen.
Hans Coper’s pots speak in silence of this interior “architectonic” space that is itself reverberated through an almost archaic modernity. He seems to be able to tune the interior, to load its mass, its void.
There is a strong sense of the vessel, the concrete with the emptiness, even an analogy to corporality set in motion by his treatment of the surface and interiors of his pots. The pots themselves belong to ever extended families, to new familiarities created by the subtle interlays between the negative spaces created through the spatial awareness that has been crafted into their very making. The pots through proximity with each other are in a spatial communion, they act to define particular spaces by defining boundaries and creating thresholds between exterior surfaces and space. These pots are themselves are “encounters” they ask us to be attentive to the responsive sensory inner space set up in residence by the permeable world of the ceramic vessel.

1 Birks, Tony. 1983. Hans Coper. London. William Collins Publishers : p75.
2 Birks, Tony. 1983. Hans Coper. London. William Collins Publishers : p22.
3 Birks, Tony. 2009. Lucie Rie. Catrine. Stenlake Publishing ltd: p44.
4 The Essential Potness. Hans Cper and Lucie Rie 2014. Collingwood and Coper Exhibition 1969. Victoria and Albert Museum.
5 Gopnic,Adam. 2013. The Great Glass Case of Beautiful Things : About the Art of Edmund de Waal. New York; Gagosian Gallery : p6-7.

Selected Bibliography.

Birks, T. 1976.Art Of The Modern Potter.London: Country life Books.
Birks, T. 1983. Hans Coper. London: William Collins Publishers.
Birks, T. 2009. Lucie Rie. Catrine : Stenlake Publishing ltd.
Coatts, M. 2008. Lucie Rie and Hans Coper, Potters in Parallel. London:
Graves, A.2005. Hans Coper: Sculpture in Architecture. Interpreting Ceramics Issue
Gopnic, A. 2013. The Great Glass Case of Beautiful Things: About the Art of
Jones, J.2005. Keeping Quiet and Finding a Voice : Ceramics and the Art of Silence. London: Interpreting Ceramics Issue 5.
Edmund de Waal. New York : Gagosian Gallery.
Whiting, D.1996. Coper at Coventry. London: Studio Pottery no 20.

2014.The Essential Potness, Hans Coper and Lucie Rie.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Joseph Cornell : a fusion of the timeless and the everyday

Collage: Diversions, Contradictions and Anomalies.

Collage's integral methods of discordance and displacement have so insistently reflected turbulent developments in twentieth century art, science and geopolitics that our response might be to categorise the whole genre as iconoclasm or subversive fantasy.

Sally O'Reilly

Monday, 20 February 2017

Life Drawing : An Emotional History

Humanity : An Emotional History
Stuart Walton. 2004


Oxford Dictionary of Geography: spatiality
The effect that space has on actions, interactions, entities, concepts, and theories. Physical spatiality can also be metaphorical. It is used to show social power—thrones are higher than the seats of commoners, and ‘high tables’ for university teachers in most Oxbridge colleges physically elevate the teachers over the taught. People use proximity to show how intimate they want to be with others (See personal space), or orientation; we may face someone or turn away from them. Institutions and governments have used large architectural spaces to invoke awe, while restaurateurs may create ‘cosiness’ in small spaces.

"Spatial turn" The increased attention to matters of space, place and mapping in literary and cultural studies, as well as in social theory, philosophy, and other disciplinary fields.

Spatiality, Robert T. Tally Jr. Routledge 2013.

The origin of "True Humanity" : Tim Ingold

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Pastoral Space: Material, Inquiry, Art and Craft

Material Agency : Carl Knappett, Lambros Malafouris
Visualising Environmental Agency

"Agents are defined as persons or things, which have the ability and intention to "cause" something "in the vicinity" or "in the mileau" to happen ( Gell 1998)"

"These latter artefacts are described with the term "index", to remove the appellation "art" and to imply that they are indexes of agency."

Some Stimulating Solutions, Andrew Cochrane.

Transformative Drawing Processes
Sun Printed Cyanotype
The sun has gone mad and stripped the earth of its ionosphere. For decades blasting radiation has poured upon earth, melting the polar caps and turning permafrost into streams, rivers, oceans. Huge deltas have been built, lakes formed, seas have risen.

The Drowned World, JG Ballard.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Thinking Hand

"It is precisely where the reach of the imagination meets the friction of materials, or where the forces of ambition rub up against the rough edges of the world, that human life is lived"

The Sighted Watchmaker : Making, Tim Ingold .2013
Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture.

Joseph Beuys : Table with Accumulator 1958-85

In this work, an accumulator – a kind of rechargeable battery in which energy can be stored - is attached by wires to two pieces of clay, as if drawing power from the earth itself. For Beuys, the production and storage of energy was a metaphor for the creative and spiritual energy that he wanted to foster both in the individual viewer and in society as a whole. This was one of the works that Beuys included in the 1982 Zeitgeist exhibition, accompanying the various elements of Lightning with Stag in its Glare.

TheThinking Hand : Existential and Embodied Wisdom in Architecture.

Juhani Pallasmaa

Collage, fragments from pinhole camera, Atelier of Jean Dominique Fleury, glass work by Pierre Soulages.

Art and Agency : The Evolving Curriculum (axes of coherence/amongst motifs, Alfred Gell )

Without the agency of time and light, there is no record.

Littoral Environments : Arts and Subjectivity (the making of things)

Text Extract/Inclusion. "Pure Presence"

The enchantment of modern life: attachments, crossings, and ethics : Jane Bennett 2001.

It is a commonplace that the modern world cannot be experienced as enchanted--that the very concept of enchantment belongs to past ages of superstition. Jane Bennett challenges that view. She seeks to rehabilitate enchantment, showing not only how it is still possible to experience genuine wonder, but how such experience is crucial to motivating ethical behavior. A creative blend of political theory, philosophy, and literary studies, this book is a powerful and innovative contribution to an emerging interdisciplinary conversation about the deep connections between ethics, aesthetics, and politics.

As Bennett describes it, enchantment is a sense of openness to the unusual, the captivating, and the disturbing in everyday life. She guides us through a wide and often surprising range of sources of enchantment, showing that we can still find enchantment in nature, for example, but also in such unexpected places as modern technology, advertising, and even bureaucracy. She then explains how everyday moments of enchantment can be cultivated to build an ethics of generosity, stimulating the emotional energy and honing the perceptual refinement necessary to follow moral codes. Throughout, Bennett draws on thinkers and writers as diverse as Kant, Schiller, Thoreau, Kafka, Marx, Weber, Adorno, and Deleuze. With its range and daring, The Enchantment of Modern Life is a provocative challenge to the centuries-old ''narrative of disenchantment,'' one that presents a new ''alter-tale'' that discloses our profound attachment to the human and nonhuman world.

The making of things and discovering relationships.

Constructing site and situation based methodologies.

Playing out in the public realm, exploring through spatial engagements the "virtues" of courage, caution,confidence and risk.