Collect 2022: Story of Textures
If Textures can be read like text, the inaugural Maud and Mabel Collect exhibition is a haptic narrative. While walking through the exhibit your perspective would be guided over the tactile surfaces of each group of works as though you are exploring a landscape. The work of each artist was given space to breathe, so that each ensemble could be admired unencumbered from many perspectives. The roughness of one artists work is juxtaposed with the smoothness of another. These varying textural qualities come together in an understated but rigorous assemblage of hand craft.
The Japan-born Melbourne based ceramist Yoko Ozawa is fascinated by Yohaku, a Japanese concept that considers blank space. Conversely the surfaces of her work in the show are not blank at all. Her functional rotund tea pots are covered with an intricate craze pattern throughout a white slip surface, over which are layers of glaze. These textures share overt similarities with arid mysterious landscapes, and emphasized by the smooth but naturally shaped eucalyptus handle.
Beside Yoko Ozawa's work are Wu Wei Cheng's tea sets. Every element of the tea sets are architectural and specific but the materialities are elusive and appear to be in metamorphosis. Combinations of smooth ridges and strong abrupt stone like planes reference softly eroded stone. Wu's idiosyncratic textures are subtly embellished with patinated metal details.
Annette Lindberg's textures continue the geological references found in Wu Wei Cheng's pieces. Lindberg's vessels are practices of Kurinuki; the Japanese method of hollowing and carving blocks of clay. Through this ancient technique Annette Lindberg examines her relationship to water and her passion for geology. The textures here are traces of artistic intuition concisely working away the material to find an inimitable excavated artifact. This work is about the interplay between geological texture and the ephemeral droplets of silver or rivers of glaze clinging to the surfaces of the bowls. When one moves around the work they experience iridescent qualities, when all of these textures tend to transform in different kinds of light.
Beside Annette Lindberg's mountainous and aquatic pieces along the mantelpiece, are the playfully chiseled, rhythmic marks flowing over the surfaces rendered by Malcom Martin and Gaynor Dowling. These wooden sculptures were placed on the window sill where daylight could accent the rippling hand made textures. Each of these pieces are a collaboration referential of Giorgio Morandi's still life paintings. Giorgio Morandi frequently painted the surfaces of the objects that were then to be arranged as subjects for a painting, similar to how Martin and Dowling cover these wooden archetypal forms with a surface of meditative marks. The duo's carving process responds to the character of the underlying wood, making for a texture that feels dynamic, improvised and natural.
In the center of the space are a constellation of carefully composed vessels by Kenta Anzai, suspended on minimal steel frame plinths. The artist has found and refined a way to imbue these pure forms with a deep peaceful finish by mixing black glaze with urushi, a traditional japanese tree sap lacquer. After these pieces are glazed, they were patiently sanded and burnished over months, but once finished they attain an effect that suggests a single moment an ensō circle is drawn, and the mind is free within a fluid gesture of creativity.
The process of making these vessels, and the Japanese practice of ensō are meditations on the beauty of simplicity and the mystery of the void. Here the Wabi-Sabi aesthetic; the appreciation of the ephemeral and imperfect, is also embodied in the unique rings of texture that emanate from the neck of each vessel. These traces of texture are telling of the time Anzai took in carefully reworking the surfaces. As seen at Collect, the reflections of the space around this Moon Jar softly glow in it’s beautifully polished surface.
Kenta understands that the viewer completes his work. During the show we witnessed this engagement between visitors and the works of each artist exhibited. People responded to each collection of pieces with sentiment that ranged from intrigue to tranquility, and from appreciation to awe. The energy of the visitors enriched the atmosphere while they moved between the handcrafted textures they discovered throughout the curated works. The thread that ran between all the work was a passionate contemporary approach to the texture of crafted surfaces in dialogue with timeless traditions of making.