The British Ceramics Biennial is into its 10th year, and for its 6th festival of all things contemporary ceramic, AirSpace Gallery is once again a main partner. For our part in the BCB 2019, we present a major new project - ‘TERMS & CONDITIONS’ - which comprises a 3 week public-facing artists' residency followed by an exhibition by collaborative artists, Mark Dunhill
and Tamiko O’Brien
At a time when digital technologies allow us to scan and replicate complex forms and gain instant access to a huge wealth of knowledge and information, the business of making by hand could seem to be unnecessary and nostalgic. This project focuses on the largely overlooked knowledge and skills of a group of local people and playfully revels in the dialogue between the eye, hand, intellect and material. In this way it sets out to celebrate the ingenuity and problem solving skills of these individuals, and to draw our attention to the importance and culture of ‘hands on’ practice.
The project begins with a 3-week residency at AirSpace, when the artists will work with a group of local volunteers who have agreed to step outside their individual comfort zones to participate in the making of the artwork. Each member of this group, including a dentist, hairdresser, masseur, blacksmith, boulderer, dressmaker, jeweler and design technologist, has their own unique 3D thinking and making skills.
Working with a custom made modular structure built by Dunhill and O’Brien during the residency, the participants will explore a range of terms and conditions for collaborative making, using raw clay, and employing experimental methods that test the limits of verbal and visual communication. The structure extending throughout the gallery acts as a working environment and filming device, where interactions will be documented during the residency.
For the exhibition, AirSpace’s main gallery will see the structure convert into a large-scale installation, incorporating and displaying the artists’ response to the objects produced, and the various processes and procedures captured by cameras and other recording devices during the residency.
Open concurrently with the AirSpace exhibition is a two-screen projection at the Gladstone Pottery Museum that will relate the residency activities to the various processes demonstrated within this inspiring living heritage setting.
AirSpace Gallery looks forward to seeing you here, in Stoke-on-Trent to celebrate the city’s deep history of handmade production and industry, for what promises to be a fantastic celebration of working by hand and the raw stuff of clay. For any further information, please contact the gallery at email@example.com
This project is supported by a series of organisations and sponsors including: Arts Council England, The British Ceramics Biennial, Gladstone Pottery Museum, Valentines Clays and Stoke-on-Trent City Council..
DUNHILL AND O’BRIEN
Dunhill and O’Brien have been working collaboratively since 1998.
They have exhibited in galleries and project spaces in the UK, Ireland, Holland, Italy and Japan, and have participated in residencies including the British School at Rome, Youkobo art Space, Tokyo and the European Ceramic Work Centre’s Hertogenbosch, Holland. Their practice is primarily concerned with questions of authorship, veracity, ‘craftsmanship’ and the status of sculpture, and, reflects, on the, at times, absurd nature of human endeavor and aspiration. Their attempts to devise methods for making sculpture that bypass their individual taste has led them to work with elaborate strategies and performative processes, often involving elements of chance, remote control, repetition, kinetics and at times the involvement of participants. The resulting artworks frequently incorporate by-products of the making process, custom made tools, raw materials, videos, photographs, or a combination of these elements alongside, or instead of, singular sculptural forms.
This new project, TERMS & CONDITONS, enables Dunhill to revisit a location that holds strong memories and associations for him. In 1980, as a solo artist, he made a series of sculptures employing 4 tons of clay with the help of the Gladstone Pottery Museum and Etruria Clay in Stoke on Trent that culminated in his first solo exhibition in London. Dunhill and O’Brien’s new project relates to that earlier endeavor and similarly employs 4 tons of clay and has evolved over the last 18 months following a number of research visits to Stoke on Trent.
MARK DUNHILL graduated with an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art in 1977, and was Dean of Art at Central Saint Martins, London (University of the Arts London) until 2017.
TAMIKO O’BRIEN graduated with an MA in Sculpture from Chelsea College of Art in 1988, she is currently Principal at City & Guilds of London Art School a small institution that specializes in contemporary art with a focus on material enquiry, as well as traditional craft subjects and sculpture conservation.
The BRITISH CERAMICS BIENNIAL
launched in 2009 with a festival celebrating and showcasing contemporary ceramics from across the world. Set in Stoke-on-Trent – the heart of the UK ceramics industry, the festival took place in established venues and non-traditional spaces across the city. It returned in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and is back in 2019 for the sixth time.
Over the ten years of its existence BCB has built up a programme of projects of artists’ residencies, fellowships, commissions, education and enterprise projects running year round. The initiative is intended to be a catalyst for regeneration in the region and to create a platform for innovation and excellence celebrating the best in current ceramic practices, both nationally and internationally.
The BCB works in partnership with organisations and individuals in the museums, cultural, industry, business, education, community and voluntary sectors across the city in the development and delivery of projects with a particular focus on public engagement.