JOANNA BIRD IS DELIGHTED to be presenting work from five continents in this groundbreaking exhibition: contemporary ceramics from Australia; traditional saris from Tamil Nadu in India; carved slipware from the US, handwoven baskets from South Africa, as well as work made by a wide range of international artists presently living and working in Britain.
Of particular interest is a selection of work that is uniquely Venetian in origin: Vittorio Constantini’s exquisite lampwork; Micheluzzi Glass, Yali, and Paolo Brandolisio’s carved and turned wooden jewellery. Gregory Warren Wilson’s work features mosaics hand-cut on the island of Murano.
At the heart of “Joie de Vivre” is each artist’s unique creativity; it is this which enables them to make original and enduring work which, in turn, revels in the very joy it conveys. The pieces in the exhibition encompass both traditional techniques that are being reinvented by artists today, as well as new work that is innovative in its originality. The disciplines represented include: silversmithing, studio ceramics, glass, textiles, carved wood, basket weaving, photography and fine art.
All our lives are enriched – aesthetically and practically – by the ways in which artists enhance our everyday environment.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness”
John Keats, Endymion.
The artists include: Hélène Binet, Clive Bowen, Paolo Brandolisio, Carina Ciscato, Vittorio Constantini, Prue Cooper, Steffen Dam, Pippin Drysdale, Philip Eglin, Lobmeyr, Geoff Mann, Micheluzzi Glass, Miyu Kurihara, Tanja Pak, Prue Piper, Chris Prindl, Judith Rowe, Yasuharu Taijima, Yo Thom, Miranda Thomas, Adi Toch, Gregory Warren Wilson, Philip Wood and Yali.
We very much hope that you will take pleasure in the brilliant colourfulness and exuberance of this exhibition. The pieces can all be viewed online, and you are welcome to visit the Chiswick Gallery from 2nd December – 17th December where the three galleries and garden can accommodate social distancing. Private appointments are welcome.
Exploring the possibilities of colour, movement and tactility, Adi Toch has generated an engaging visual language of metal with her hollow silver vessels and containers. She creates unique surfaces through texturing, colouring and patination.
Gregory Warren Wilson lives in Venice and London. He knows la Serenissima and its artistic traditions both ancient and modern, intimately.
He has made a body of work in glass which is both mysterious and joyfully colourful. With layers of glass he poses the question – what are we looking at? He draws us into exploring the nature of glass, its vivid colour, opulence and brilliance.
The slight texture of hammered glass lightly veils the intricate designs of translucent mosaic glass – beneath. The small hand cut pieces of glass from Murano appear somehow to float and dance.
There is an unembarrassed enjoyment of language in the titles.
Pippin is a Master of her porcelain lustre work. Applying gold, silver and platinum lavishly to the organic forms inspired by the landscape of Australia, her finely made lustre ware pieces are timeless and breath-taking, imparting a sense of joy and celebration.
A master of lamp working. He spends countless hours at the flame holding tiny insects and fish, flowers and shells on a glass rod as he perfects his work. The more realistic the better pleased he is. He researches in books to get all the details right. It is for this he wishes to be celebrated.
The carapaces of beetles have been used historically and more recently in Art Nouveau. You may have seen them at the V&A in Alexander McQueens exhibition – on a cloak where he used them lavishly.
Vittorio makes his own Aventurine glass – which was discovered by Monks in Venice. No one knew how the glittering aspect was achieved. The secret was that the glass which contained copper had to be heated twice which gave the copper flecks an amazing density of sparkle. The monks kept this secret for hundreds of years.
Aventurine is jewel like, normally a brown colour but Green and Cobalt Blue are much rarer. These colours are made by Vittorio himself. The curve of the body of the beetles accentuates this.
Carina’s work has exponentially grown in confidence and moved in exciting new architectural directions. Carina’s work captures the fluidity of clay as she masterfully alters and re-assembles the thrown forms with a natural sense of balance, form and material.
Inspired by the undulating Pennine landscape, James Oughtibridge hand builds his abstract sculptural ceramics with a mastery of line, mark-making and surface texture. The convex and concave forms blend together to create a fluid sense of movement and complement garden designs in a natural way.
Hélène Binet’s work exhibits a sense of imposing strength balanced by quietude through her use of black and white film stock as well as her sensitive and exacting eye for framing and details. Capturing the fortitude of the human spirit within the stillness of time, with strong contrasts of light she recreates in her photographic compositions a sense of space and depth beyond the surficial.
Tanja’s conceptual glass work addresses the intimate relationships we have with the space around us, and with one another. Her work is a manifestation of ephemeral matter such as human breaths and thought processes.
Miranda’s designs draw from the English countryside, as well as using symbolism and patterns from ancient Japanese, Middle Eastern and Aboriginal designs. Her pottery is celebrated in many collectors’ homes, including those of celebrities and dignitaries such as President Barack Obama, President-elect Joe Biden and Pope John Paul II.
Elena and Margherita Micheluzzi have started a new venture, Micheluzzi Glass. Inspired by the work of their father, the celebrated glass artist Massimo Micheluzzi, they produce new designs in a range of subtle colours. Every piece is handblown on Murano by skilled maestri employing traditional Venetian glass working techniques.
Due to their light weight, unique patterns and typically neutral tones that emerge from the combination of natural and dyed fibres, Isangwa baskets are popularly used for decorating walls. Telephone wire baskets, with their even texture and dynamic colour range, deliver a captivating convergence of modern materials and traditional basket-weaving.
Clive makes domestic ware in the true Mingei tradition in that he wants people to be able to replace pots if they get broken. His free gestural decoration fits so well his warm and lively pots. Never one to overstate, he remains truthful to his chosen path while interpreting his work in a painterly way.
The strength and beauty of Plumptre’s work lies in the balance of form and colour influenced by Japanese aesthetics. As a past pupil of Tatsuzo Shimaoka, his practice is further rooted in Shimaoka’s Japanese tradition of rope inlay. Plumptre demonstrates complete dedication in his practice, scrupulously overseeing every aspect of each piece.
Marie-Rose Kahane’s passion for glass and design is influenced by her working and living in Venice, making it possible for her to look at different types of glass from the Renaissance to the timeless work of Carlo Scarpa. Vital to Yali are the very talented and committed glass artisans of Murano. The three vases have been blown by Simone Cenedese on Murano.
Paolo works hidden away amongst Venice’s canals and alleyways. A master wood carver, he is known for his crafted oars and fórcole. Intricately designed, the rowlocks on a gondola are functional in their own right and appear sculptural. Made of Walnut, pear or cherry, they have up to eight positions in which the oars can rotate. Though hailed as an artist, Paolo prefers to consider himself a specialised artisan whose work consists of producing indispensable oars and fórcole which are used by the gondoliers daily.
His bracelets allow him more creative time to experiment with maple, walnut and zebrano wood. They are pure, sculptural shapes.
Prue has freely developed her own style, unaffected by trends and conventions. Using coloured slip and relief work, she often references folklore and mythology. Prue’s multi-coloured collection of jugs, vases and candlesticks demonstrate a cheerful lightness and bring joy to the everyday.
The skill of throwing on a potter’s wheel is the basis of Rupert Spira’s work. Having been the apprentice to some major ceramic artists he sets very high standards in the craft of his art – making things larger and with extraordinary attention to detail than one might anticipate.
The versatility of his skills mean that works vary in scale from miniature to monumental and in decoration from monochrome to intricately hand-written texts. Rupert sometimes also painstakingly applies raised texts to his work, and in some cases poetry he has written himself. He no longer makes pots.
Prue’s dishes are meant to be used and enjoyed; slip decorated press-moulded earthenware is an approachable and friendly medium. The designs reflect her view of life, celebrating friendship and the sharing of simple pleasures. Some dishes have inscriptions, which are not separate from the designs but integral to the whole both in form and meaning.
During his first ten years of glass making, Dam trained as a toolmaker. He mastered a plethora of techniques in many media, to become a highly accomplished craftsman. While doing so, he discovered a new kind of beauty in the fringes of the well-crafted glass he was making. In the area of mistakes and faults – the unwanted air bubbles, ash marks, soot, cracks and crookedness – he found something that could not be predicted or sketched beforehand. He set the established and traditional techniques aside and started making glass all “wrong” in an attempt to capture the good in the bad. Out of these experiments came the “Fossils”, “Plants” and other objects – like frozen extracts of chaos to be watched undisturbed.
These Lobmeyr glasses are first mouthblown and then polished by hand, every single product is handled with the care of at least eighteen hands during production.
Tracey is a Fine Binder and Mark Maker.
“This wall-based work, Each day is different, explores mark-making as surface: a grid flows over and across the separate and overlapping planes, creating the appearance of a unified whole, with the mesh-like grid forming a covering of sorts. These visual elements aim to align with my displacement through circumstance and the re-gathering of self.”
Philip’s ceramic works reflect and comment on contemporary culture. This group of small plates was a collaboration, decorated by Philip and his son.
Yo has cited the Japanese ceramic tradition of Nezumi Shino as her biggest inspiration, this glaze and stain give her the distinct grey colour and lined patterns which she masterfully reproduces in her stoneware and porcelain. She decorates her tableware and ornamental vessels in this way, using her own indigo slip with sgraffito decoration covered with a matt white glaze.
Philip has recently returned to working in stoneware. His new body of work continues to employ animal imagery; however, he is now using a resist and stencil technique. Philip has also marked some works with ‘Lockdown 2020’, a reference to the time in which they were made.
Tajima’s hand made ceramics are sculptural and have a warm, organic quality. He makes a range of slab-built porcelain tableware as well as large coil built one-off pieces, using his own Seiji, Tenmoku and green glazes.
Jaejun relishes everyday objects and believes that each object we interact with should be a thing of beauty and detailed design. In a world of mass production he asks his audience to consider the makers motives for producing objects, to appreciate the care taken to create them and the value of handmade objects.
Jaejun’s aim is communicate a message of functionality and beauty through his work. It is his hope that through continued use, the objects will enrich and enhance the user’s everyday life.
Cross-fire is focused around the context of a domestic argument; an audio excerpt from the 1999 Sam Mendes film, American Beauty. The crossfire of the argument traverses the dining table, animating everyday objects to express their character.
Each edition of the jug has been hand-sculpted through lamp-working in glass, referencing a 3D printed master. Each undulation and deformation becomes a physical echo of the conversation.
Miyu draws upon her heritage when creating her ceramics pieces; inspired by both Japanese kimono design and traditional Asian ceramics. All pieces are made by hand and individually drawn with intricate detail. She incorporates brush techniques and textile design into her work and uses traditional blue and white porcelain craftsmanship that originate in China and Japan.
Loving nothing more than to be on the beach or in the fields, Judith Rowe decorates her earthenware using oxides and paints that mirror the greens, greys and blues of Hasting’s shoreline and surrounding landscape.
Using an oxblood glaze and gas reduction firing, Chris makes porcelain thumb shots and other forms. He employs many different Japanese ceramic techniques and his appreciation of clay and its different types has evolved from a dedicated process of making and experimenting.
Traditionally a draped garment to be worn, Indian saris excite with their soft touch and vivid colour. All the saris exhibited were produced in Tamil Nadu and display the elegance and dynamism that has become expected from this iconic Indian textile.
We hope that you have enjoyed the exhibition and experienced the “Joie de Vivre” within, imparted by the artists.
We would like to thank all the artists, photographers Sylvain Deleu and Alick Cotterill, filmmakers Rupert Newman and Alex J. Wright.
With all good wishes,
Joanna and team