Wednesday, 26 June 2019
Kenyan-born Magdalene Odundo OBE is one of the world's most esteemed ceramic artists. I went along to The Hepworth in Wakefield to catch her exhibition 'The Journey of Things', and what a treat it was. There were a number of her own pieces, alongside other historic and contemporary objects that she has chosen to illustrate the influences on her work. There's a good review HERE.
I loved the burnished terracotta vases above. She builds the pots, not on a wheel but by constantly walking around them and shaping them by hand. Then she adds a slip glaze and fires them, with subtle and unpredictable results.
"I work very slowly. I think a lot. I work on pieces like a sculptor. I form, I model, I remodel."
The porcelain 'Three Ashed Bottles' below are by Gwyn Hanssen Pigott (1935-2013), an acclaimed Australian ceramic artist. I adored their simple lines and the crackled glaze.
The pot above is by Odundo, whereas the one below, dated to about 1900, is a traditional pot made and used by the Nupe people of Nigeria, whom she cites as one of her greatest inspirations. She explores the connection between pottery and womanhood in many African cultures; women make and use the pots, and there are associations with the fertility of earth and the female body's ability to serve as a vessel for a child.
I'm not always wildly excited about ceramics, but I did like these very much - such simple, strong shapes. It was also very interesting to see the other objects she had chosen to display and to trace connections and her 'journey' as an artist.