There Do Not Exist Things Made, Only Things in the Making
This collaged sequence of films presents a record of making in close focus: artists’ hands work with raw and fired clay through a range of processes and physical states. They offer an intimate portrait of the relationship between visual and tactile perception, as well as between artist and material. Themes of skill, labour, tacit knowledge and time are implicit. Materiality is presented as a state of flux, revealing the threshold space of becoming. ‘There do not exist things made, only things in the making’ (Elizabeth Grosz, ‘The Thing’).
This film sequence has been edited from four documentary films commissioned by National Museum Wales as part of their 2015 ceramic exhibition Fragile? Each film describes the practical journeys of four ceramic artists, from clay to finished artwork. They document the makers’ diverse and extraordinary involvements with clay. They also tell of the seductive qualities of raw and fired ceramic material, of its robustness and elasticity, its delicacy and precision, its brittleness and strength. The physicality and intimacy of each artist’s relationship with clay became a shared experience for the viewer, carrying the bodily activities of each maker out into the wider experience of the exhibition.
There Do Not Exist Things Made, Only Things in the Making visually explores ideas present within my theoretical research, which examines the relationship between contemporary sculptural ceramic practice and embodied perception, placing particular emphasis on the context of audience experience. The qualities of clay and ceramic materiality with their deep-seated phenomenological and anthropological relationship to human experience are key to my enquiry; notions of skill, making, craft and tacit knowledge emerge as significant research threads here. These themes are supported by an investigation into phenomenology, spatial theory and sensory perception, in particular the reciprocal relationship between vision and touch and its relevance to the viewing of artworks. Case studies of selected contemporary ceramic artists are integral to this research. Each artist’s work is analysed and interpreted within a focused theoretical framework in order to establish a connection between clay sculpture and embodied perception.
Catherine Roche is an artist, writer and doctoral researcher in the Ceramics Research Centre at Westminster University. Her PhD is theory-based.
Film and Editing: Pete Telfer
Copyright: National Museum Wales