A Visit to Craft in the Bay Part 1

I went to Craft in the Bay which is situated behind The Red Dragon Centre, it’s a small building  packed with all sorts interesting pieces.

The Main Space

Bev Bell Hughes

The first object that I took interest in was this ceramic piece below. I found it hard to believe that it was made by hand and not taken out the bottom of the ocean. This object was made by Bev Bell Hughes, she explores the relationship between natural forms and clay.

Bev constructs these objects by pinching slabs of clay together and uses a volcanic/lava glaze to finish them with the texture that makes it look like it really came from the sea.

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This was the main thing in Craft in the Bay that caught my eye. I loved the organic form of it and the texture. I also loved how it didn’t really look like a piece of ceramic and I really wanted to run my finger along it and examine every part of it.
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Another one of Bev Bell Hughes’ pieces. To me, this one looks a little more made than than the other one but I still find the form really amazing.

 

Christine Gittins

Again what I found most interesting with these is how these pieces didn’t look like ceramics to me, they looked like marble. I loved how there were these two contrasting textures, the very rough top parts of the pieces that look like craters and the very smooth stone like bottom part.

I learned that the way that Gittins gets this effect with saggar firing, which is almost like a method of drawing with fire. You can put put things like horse hair and feathers on the object before firing and they’ll leave marks on the surface and then burn up so you’re only left with the final result.

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These vessels have a beautiful marble marble quality that makes them look so heavy set and solid and they have these tops that look like volcanoes which I find interesting because sagger firing and firing in general has such a strong and long standing relationship and association with fire that it makes these pots feel so raw whilst looking so polished.

The thing that I loved about the piece in the photo below was mostly the finish in the middle of it. I really liked the way it looked like a kind of burnt metal, I just thought the detail in the middle was very appealing somehow.

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Again I love how raw this dish is, the metallic detail of it makes it feel like it was pulled from the centre of a volcano and shaped by humans. There’s something about it that vaguely reminds me of the opening sequence of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring where you see the rings being forged.

 

David Frith

David Frith is another ceramicist that I really liked in Craft in the Bay. I mostly liked his work for the colouration and calligraphic qualities rather than the forms. I found out that Frith uses a copper glaze to get the earthy deep red that he gets on his work and fires them by reduction firing where oxygen in the kiln is very limited, the copper glaze seen on the plate is commonly used in reduction firing.

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I love the rich earthy red tones of this piece of ceramic, the marks in the middle are quite abstract but also very reminiscent of oriental calligraphy which I have always admired.
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These are my favourite of the pieces in Craft in the Bay by Frith because I love the shape of the vessels as well as the colouration. They’re quite tall and it’s almost like the colour cascades down the pot like a water fall. Again I love the red marks that streak the side of the pot really beautiful and oriental.

 

Sasha Kingston

Sasha Kingston is a paper and textile artist. I was drawn to her work because of  the organic, aquatic shapes featured in the work. These pieces particularly remind me of jelly fish or some kind of microscopic creatures.

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I love the simplicity of the materials that are used, I think it’s important to remind myself of the amazing things that can be done with low-key materials. I think that the effect that Kingston has created here is quite dynamic and looks very light on the paper and give the sense of being very natural and fluid. 
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There’s something about this piece that I find very dangerous in a weird way, I think it’s because there’s something about the harsh lines that remind me of stingers from insects or deadly sea creatures. I really like that contrast of a dangerous looking thing being made from something that’s quite delicate. 

 

Helly Powell 

Helly Powell is an artist who does fauxidermy which is fake taxidermy. Powell uses various textiles to create her woodland animal heads. I really appreciate these pieces because I don’t like taxidermy that much because I find it kind of sad. However I find these textile creations to be a lot of fun because they have a realistic and strong sense of taxidermy without being nearly as morbid. I also find that these pieces are without the connotations that taxidermy has for me, I think it’s because they aren’t real animals and have a warmer feel to them. I’ve always been slightly disgusted by taxidermy being displayed in houses because I feel as though it’s almost like bragging about killing animals or like it’s asserting a weird power that people have gained over other animals in a way that makes me uneasy.

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I’ve always loved things that are inspired by or are replications of foxes in some way because I like foxes. They always have an air of mystery and mischievousness about them that I find very enticing. There is something about the glassy eyes that does make it a little sad but I find the shaggy textile that Powell used makes it fun to look at and very much takes the edge off the idea of taxidermy for me. 
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The favourite piece by Powell is this stag because I think that the mix of textile designs is really beautiful and elegant. I think these choices is very befitting of the stag because it reflects the elegance and grace that stags naturally have. I really admire the skill of the piece, I would love to be able to do something like this and it inspires me to improve my sewing skills and gain greater knowledge in working in textiles. 

These were things that caught my eye in the main space, they were mostly things that spoke to me of organic and unusual forms. I really enjoyed looking at this space because it opened my eyes to new ways to use materials that I have been looking at for so many years, so I think it has really excited and inspired me to look at materials in refreshed ways and to really have courage to try odd things with them.

 

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