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Friday, 27 November 2015

Stevens, de Waal, Stofer, Baldwin, Britton, Rena & Adams

Blackwell, the Arts & Crafts House, currently has two under-stated but wonderful exhibitions of ceramics. Ideas of Order takes a poem by Wallace Stevens’ poem as its starting point in order to juxtapose ‘ideas of order’ in ceramic works by Edmund de Waal and Hans Stofer, while Gordon Baldwin, Alison Britton and Nicholas Rena grapple with ideas of form and function in Traditions of Use:

"‘I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.’

American poet Wallace Stevens’ Anecdote of the Jar begins with an act of deliberate placement which creates new order. ‘Placed’ and out-of-place in the wilderness, the jar of the title domesticates wilderness into a surrounding. Taking Stevens’ poem as its starting point, this display juxtaposes ‘ideas of order’ in ceramic works by makers Edmund de Waal and Hans Stofer.

English novelist AS Byatt recognised affinities between Stevens and Edmund de Waal: ‘The pots give me the same joy Stevens gives me, of recognising the human making of Balzac’s “things”, what Stevens also calls a “blessed rage for order”’. De Waal’s delicate groups of vessels and the cultivated disorder of Stofer’s bowls evoke and question ideas of aesthetic, domestic and social order - and the hierarchies of value that underpin them. The conversation between pieces is shadowed by Blackwell’s history as a house where domestic order and routine labour were inextricable."

Traditions of Use "showcases the work of three leading British ceramic artists who all grapple with ideas of form and function within the wider debate of where contemporary craft stands in today’s art world.

Breaking with the tradition that in ceramics form is all that matters, Gordon Baldwin creates what he terms ‘vessels’ which challenge the concepts of ‘fine art’ and ‘craft.’ So too does renowned ceramicist, writer and critic, Alison Britton, who looks at the connections and disjunctions with ceramic history, painting and sculpture. Nicholas Rena’s sculptural ceramics engage with ideas of containment and emptiness while alluding ‘to traditions of use that are almost lost.’"

The Lakeland Arts Trust also shows work at Blackwell, including earthenware by sculptor and poet Anna Adams, wife of the painter Norman Adams. Lakeland Arts is one of the most significant arts and heritage organisations in the North of England with a national and international reputation for the quality of its historic buildings, museum and gallery collections and programming. It has a diverse portfolio of attractions: Blackwell, Abbot Hall Art Gallery and the Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry in Kendal and the new Windermere Jetty in Bowness.


Wallace Stevens - The Idea Of Order.

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