10 September - 29 October 2022
Artists: Attua Aparicio Torinos, Saelia Aparicio, Simon Bayliss, Brickfield, Phoebe Collings-James, Rosanna Martin
Clay plays an integral part in origin myths all over the world. Its tactility offers its own explanation for this: when wet, it is soft as flesh; when dried, it is as hard or as brittle as bones. It can survive intact for hundreds and thousands of years, recording the skills of potters, the introduction of new technologies, and the organisation of societies.
Humans have developed sophisticated methods of extracting clay from the ground, and with the growth of global distribution networks it has found its way into products as diverse as tiles, paper, pills, paint, insulation and toothpaste. These uses have shaped landscapes, including Cornwall’s clay country, where deep valleys have been quarried and high mountains of waste have been constructed. As we begin to make more direct connections between the causes and effects of human interactions with materials and the ecologies that produced them, clay offers a direct example of the removal of matter from one location to so many others across the planet in ways that are at once necessary and extractive.
Like the origins of the title of this exhibition – a dream described in the Old Testament – we are discovering that the systems we have become reliant on have been built on brittle foundations, and our belief that we are separate from nature – that we ourselves do not have feet of clay – is equally illusory.
Some of the artworks in this exhibition, all of which are new, are inspired by the cultures of humans, others by non-humans, and include recycled materials and living organisms as well as clay itself. Crucially, rather than observing from afar, they position the human body as embedded inside of and implicated in the use and impact of this material – they are forms that nourish, protect growth, collect waste, offer repose and record gestures. Together, they meditate on the tension between the negative spaces of mines and quarries and the positive act of creating that is made possible as a result of this displacement.
Photo by Tim Bowditch – Phoebe Collings-James, Detail of How many times can I surrender to you (Your loving have taught me how not to die), Camden Arts Centre, London, 2021
Attua Aparicio Torinos is a multidisciplinary artist working in the intersection of design, craft and art. Her practice is driven by material research and direct experimentation, and she is interested in sustainability, material hybridisation and tactility. Collaborations are a fundamental part of her practice; she co-founded Silo Studio with Oscar Lessing and she also collaborates regularly with her sister, artist Saelia Aparicio.
Recent exhibitions include the solo presentation Push-ups, arranged with the support of the Swedish Art Associations at Ifö Center in 2021, travelling to Form Design Center, Malmö in 2022. In 2021 she was part of the group show Blue jeans & brown clay at Kate MacGarry, London, curated by Mariah Nielson, and also undertook a funded residency at Cove Park, Scotland. In 2020 she was part of a two-person presentation, with Erika Emeren, at Collectable, Brussels with MRD Gallery, and completed a four-month residency at Ifö Center, supported by Bromölla municipality. In 2019, she was awarded a three-month residency at Jingdezhen International Studio, China, which was co-funded by the European Ceramic Workcenter -EKWC- and Taoxicuan Ceramic Art Avenue and resulted in a group touring exhibition A Taste of Ceramics. She graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2011 with an MA in Design Products.
Saelia Aparicio works in a wide variety of media, from wall drawings to videos, sculptures and furniture. Originating in a fascination with the sculptural forms of medical instruments, they often create objects and installations that pierce surfaces, suggesting inner worlds and complex systems that are not otherwise immediately apparent.
Some of Saelia’s recent shows have been: Testament group show at Goldsmiths art Centre, (2022) A New Figuration, curated by Glenn Adamson at Friedman Benda, New York. (2022), My friends and other animals, curated by Elena del Rivero at Travesia 4, Madrid (2021), From creatures to creators, at Kunsthaus Hamburg, Germany (2021), The Shape of a circle in the mind of fish with plants, Serpentine, London (2019) Prótesis para invertebrados, curated by Ignacio Cabrera, casa encendida, Madrid (2019), and People of imagination, collaboration with Craig Green, Frieze and Carlos Place, Matches Fashion, London (2019). They are the recipient of several awards, including Jerwood Survey 2 (2021), Porthmeor emerging artist Residency (2020), Generaciones 2019, Sarabande, the Lee Alexander McQueen foundation studio residency (2018) by Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2016.
Simon Bayliss is an artist and music producer based in St Ives, Cornwall, UK. Trained as a painter and then as a potter, he works mainly in slipware ceramics, dance music and video, with occasional forays into poetry and performance. Born in Wolverhampton in 1984, he was raised in Andros, Bahamas, then East Devon, UK and has been living in Cornwall most of his adult life.
Bayliss currently has artworks on display in Modern Conversations, Tate St Ives, Trading Station: How hot drinks shape our lives, Manchester Art Gallery – acquired for the public collection through The Manchester Contemporary Art Fund – and at Chandos Place St Austell, part of the Whitegold Ceramics Trail, in conjunction with Austell Project. Recent solo exhibitions have included We-Ha-Neck! (A harvest supper), The Burton at Bideford Art Gallery and Museum (2021), and Meditations in an Emergency, in the Southwest Showcase series at Mirror [formerly The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art] (2018). Bayliss has also been commissioned to create a site specific artwork at Bluebird House, a young peoples’ mental health hospital in Southampton, for Hospital Rooms (2019), and (with Susie Green) created a short film for cinema screened in independent cinemas across UK, as part of Projections artist moving image commission, Newcastle (2019).
“Brickfield is a love letter to the heritage art of Cornish brick making.”*
Brickfield is an outdoor community brickworks based in a disused china clay pit, Blackpool, near St Austell. It draws on the history and heritage of brick making in clay country, using locally-sourced waste materials from the china clay industry to engage people in learning how to make bricks by hand, and aims to connect people with landscape, labour and heritage.
Brickfield was established in 2018 by Rosanna Martin and Dr Katie Bunnell, and set up on site in 2019. In 2019 and 2020 they collaborated with expert brick maker John Osborne, the last man to fire the last working beehive kiln in Cornwall in 1971. The collaboration resulted in the construction of a mini beehive kiln on-site, with capacity to fire up to 500 bricks, as well as commissioning a publication, film and series of photographs that aimed to create a record of John’s embodied skills and knowledge.
In 2021, Brickfield received Heritage Lottery funding to partner with Falmouth University MA Architecture Programme and The Happy Wanderers, a dementia friendly walking group local to St Austell supported by the Sensory Trust. Brickfield also partnered with the V&A and University of East London in 2021 to set up their first itinerant brickworks, Brickfield Newham, out of which grew the Brickfield Makers.
*Anna Francis, Use and Ornament: A Manual for Recovery through Pottery and Ceramics’, 2021.
Phoebe Collings-James’ work often eludes linear retellings of stories. Instead, her works function as ‘emotional detritus’: they speak of knowledges of feelings, the debris of violence, language and desire which are inherent to living and surviving within hostile environments. Recent works have been dealing with the object as subject, giving life and tension to ceramic forms. As young nettle, a musical alias, she loves sound that totally envelopes her, and is part of B.O.S.S., a QTIBPOC sound system based in South London. Drawn to high-octane, sensual, emotional sound, with heavy bass and wild lyrical flows, she creates sound design for original music productions. Including Sounds 4 Survival, an undulating live performance created with SERAFINE1369, which asks the question of what an anti-assimilationist practice can be. Collings-James’s Mudbelly ceramics studio began as a personal practice and research outlet, but has since grown to encompass a shop and a teaching facility offering free ceramics courses for Black people in London, taught by Black ceramicists.
In 2022 her work was included in Body Vessel Clay at Two Temple Place, London, and she was 2022 summer incubator resident at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana at the invitation of Theaster Gates. As the 2021 Freelands Ceramic Fellow she exhibited her first institutional solo show A Scratch! A Scratch! at Camden Arts Centre, London (2021). Other recent exhibitions include Crowd Control, High Art Arles, Arles (2022), Produktive Bildstörung. Sigmar Polke und aktuelle künstlerische Positionen, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf (2021), Who Blows The Horn?, Picture Room, New York, US (2019), Give Me A Minute, performance at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2018) and In Whose Eyes, Beaconsfield Gallery, London (2018).
Rosanna Martin is an artist making works in and about Cornwall. Her work holds an aura of natural geology, but its focus is firmly on human invention and intervention; on humanalia (a strange and broad catalogue of things made by people that consequently exist only on earth) and on small scale acts of production and creation. (Edited from a text written by Fieldnotes)
In 2022, Rosanna opened the new ceramic studio at CAST, Helston, and in 2017 she founded Brickworks in Penryn, and in 2019 became the lead artist on Brickfield, an experimental, participatory Brickworks set in a disused china clay extraction quarry near St Austell. Exhibitions of her work include Unbounded, curated by FieldNotes and Eden Project, Eden Project, Cornwall (2019), Break us Gently, Porthmeor Studios, St Ives (2019), The Lost Rock Library, Goonhilly Village Green (2019), and Where It Is, There It Is, Auction House Art, Redruth as part of Groundwork (2018).
Rebecca Lewin is a curator and writer based in London with an interest in the intersections of art, design and ecology. She is currently working as Senior Curator at the Design Museum, and was previously Curator, Exhibitions and Design at Serpentine, London, where she curated shows including Back to Earth (a group exhibition including Dineo Seshee Bopape, Brian Eno and Carolina Caycedo among others), Formafantasma, Luchita Hurtado, Pierre Huyghe, Ian Cheng, Etel Adnan, DAS INSTITUT, and Martino Gamper. She has worked on public art commissions by Michael Craig-Martin and Bertrand Lavier, the 2018 Serpentine Pavilion by Frida Escobedo, and the 2013 Serpentine Pavilion by Sou Fujimoto.
She has also produced independent exhibitions, including A Partition; at Cell Project Space (2016), The Palace of Green Porcelain at Breese Little Gallery (2013) and Pertaining to things natural… at the Chelsea Physic Garden (2012).
She has contributed catalogue essays to Serpentine publications on Formafantasma, Cao Fei (with Joseph Constable), Lucy Raven and DAS INSTITUT. Three contributions to the Phaidon publication Vitamin C were published in 2018, and contributed interviews with Formafantasma for TLmag, Salvatore Arancio for Semiose and Allison Katz for Mousse Magazine.
She has been a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art, the Design Academy Eindhoven and the London School of Architecture.