This week I visited the online Ceramic Art London Exhibition. Due to extenuating circumstances, the in-person exhibition in King’s Cross could not go ahead this year. Instead, they delivered it virtually, displaying many of their ceramic artists via their website and the hashtag ‘#VIRTUALCAL2020’. This virtual showcase has been live for a lot longer than the original exhibition would have been, which I think is useful for people interested in the world of ceramics.
Upon first glance, the array of artists was vast. 110 ceramic artists, each with their own style of creating. A large majority of these created pottery, however I chose two artists to take a closer look at: Sally Macdonell’s female sculptures, and Brendan Hesmondhalgh’s wild animals. These two artists show that there is a range of ceramics on show, providing a sculpture alternative to the countless pots on display.
Each artist’s page was kept brief, showcasing a few images of their pieces both close up and at a distance, alongside a brief description of their work and their contact details. The pieces, taken from their portfolios, were captured beautifully, and the true essence of each of their works were portrayed in both the photography and the makeup of the piece itself.
Unfortunately the pieces were not named or described in the slightest, however with a delve into the artist’s personal webpages I could decipher most of them out of an archive of many beautiful pieces.
Sally Macdonell’s feminine figures appeared quite submissive to the eye, and fragile due to the delicate texturing and ashen marks on the small (100cm tall) bodies, making them look hurt or destroyed in some way. This contrasts the violent punching and slapping she uses to shape her clay. Her description confirmed that she explores the human condition, and from work to work she varies the position of each of her ladies to deliver a different mood. This endeavour was successful, as one of the ladies with her hands at her sides delivers a much stronger atmosphere than the lady with a hand draped shyly across her body.
On the other hand, Hesmondhalgh’s pieces look quite robust and humbling to the eye, especially as he displays them besides chairs which they tower over. They are often larger than life, and in captivating colours to catch the eye. He positions them in ways to demonstrate their movement, focusing on the structure of the creatures. They appear very unique, built by attaching small pieces of clay to the structure to add detailing. This delicacy conflicts the full-bodied nature of the piece as a whole.
Overall, the virtual exhibition was as close to an in-person display it could have been, and I think they adapted to the pressures of lockdown remarkably well. Whilst the same atmosphere could not be achieved, I received a good sense of the pieces that would have been on display from the photo slideshows. I think there was an interesting selection of ceramics on display, and it will definitely appeal to individuals with an interest in this medium. It also gives an amazing platform for smaller artists to make a debut, especially with its vast collection. I think the work of the artists selected are beautiful, and all very unique. Whilst it would have been easier to navigate if the names (let alone size and scale) of the works were beside them, all the information a viewer might need were available to find via the contact details also provided.
I think Ceramic Art London’s virtual exhibition is a great opportunity for ceramic artists and enjoyers alike, and therefore that it successfully fulfils its purpose. I enjoyed scouring through the artists on display, and even picked out my favourites which I have previously mentioned, and would recommend it to anyone who needs to kill time or gain some insight into the world of ceramics.