M A T T E R A N D T E C H N I Q U E
Materiality is at the core of crafting – the emphasis on the compositional matter of a piece through skillful rendering shapes our interaction with an object. Beyond visible colour and form, the choice of material impacts the temperature, weight, texture, sound and function or display of a piece. With any art form, the decision to use a medium speaks to the artist’s resonance with the sensorial experience, history, connotation and accessibility of the material. The awe a finely crafted piece inspires come from both the beauty of the raw, natural matter – each with their unique properties – and the maker’s familiarity and technique used to carefully render a physical, tactile object imbued with creativity.
C L A Y
EMELIE ABRAHAMSSON, GAKU NAKANE & KOICHI ONOZAWA
The malleability of clay and the resilient nature of ceramics make the material one that has sustained the test of time, and used across different cultures. Contemporary ceramics often invoke cultural and historical references, and an innate connection with the material drawn from the earth. Its multifarious presentations create endless artistic possibilities.
On the left, Emelie Abrahamsson hand building a clay vessel. On the right, CURVE vessels by Emelie Abrahamsson, for Maud & Mabel.
(Photograph courtesy the artist @mliceramics).
Using the technique of coiling, Emelie Abrahamsson, ceramic artist based in Hönö – an island in the Swedish archipelago, sculpts her stoneware clay into large pieces with distinctive shapes. By coiling and hand building, Abrahamsson is able to create vessels with thicker walls that bulge outwards and stand on a narrow bottom without the soft clay collapsing inwards during the process of creating the work. The technique enables dramatic curves – a nod to the inspiration from the land and ocean around Abrahamsson – to flow through her work; the contrast of the seemingly destabilising form of a heavy and sturdy material pronounces its own materiality.
Collection of Ceramic Flowers by Gaku Nakane, 2023, for group exhibition Weightless (9th - 14th May 2023) by Maud & Mabel at Cromwell Place. (Photograph courtesy the artist @gaku_nakane).
Gaku Nakane is a Japanese ceramic artist trained under the tutelage of Masahiko Ichino – one of Japan’s leading modern ceramicists. With an acute sensitivity to the properties of various clays, Nakane layers different types of clays with different shrinkage rates to create crackles on the surface of his ceramics pieces. The effect is one of a detailed intricacy that emulates aged stone, a pretense in material which highlights the versatile yet distinctive qualities of clay. The play between a handmade craft and a naturally withered down material explores concepts of temporality, boundaries, nature and creation.
From left to right: Ceramic Flowers by Gaku Nakane, 2020, ceramics and metal; Gaku Nakane wiping his ceramic bowl; detail of a series of
Ceramic Flowers by Gaku Nakane, 2020, ceramics and metal. (Photographs courtesy the artist @gaku_nakane).
Japanese ceramic artist Koichi Onozawa throws his pieces on a wheel, pinching the edges to create thinly structured stoneware. He further moulds each piece by thinning out the body of the clay after it has been left to dry for some time, exercising careful control over the material. The simple delicate pieces take on an almost organic undulation; the artist attributes this to his reverence for nature and the goal to, in his own words, ‘integrate primitive beauty in modernity’ by creating pieces which are reminiscent of ancient Japanese earthenware from the Yayoi period (c.300 BCE – 300 CE).
Stoneware by Koichi Onozawa, 2023, for the group exhibition Weightless (9th - 14th May 2023) by Maud & Mabel at Cromwell Place.
(Photographs courtesy the artist @onozawakoichi).
M E T A L
Craig Bamford was raised in Kenya and works with elemental materials – wood and metal – that are locally sourced and reclaimed. The artist incorporates his training in metalwork, carpentry and architecture into his pieces and his design process is dependent on his practice of writing, drawing and painting. Working alongside a small workshop at SASA Works, the artist draws on the material possibilities of the sturdiness and heavy weight of wood and metal to create pieces that are whimsical and delicate yet monumental, sculpted and designed to retain a sense of rawness.
Left: Craig Bamford heating metal in his studio; right: Constellation_Eart Sun by Craig Bamford and SASA Works workshop, 2022,
to be displayed at the group exhibition Weightless (9th - 14th May 2023) by Maud & Mabel at Cromwell Place.
(Photograph courtesy the artist and workshop @sasa_works).
P A P E R
Detail of In late spring/ pattern V by Krista Mezzadri, 2022, etching ink monotype on Japanese conservation tissue paper, rice paste and birch panel, 91.44 x 60.96 x 3.81 cm, to be displayed at the group exhibition Weightless (9th - 14th May 2023) by Maud & Mabel at Cromwell Place.
(Photograph courtesy the artist @kristamezzadri).
Self-taught American artist Krista Mezzadri takes an experimental approach to her practice, which explores the beauty in the coexistence of opposites: she fuses the light and airy translucent tissue with wood – a solid stable material; she toys with irregularities that can be emphasised with geometric patterns. To create the enigmatic pieces, the artist overlays monotype-printed washi paper on a wood panel and laminates the layers together with rice paste. Each monotype print layer is hand printed by pressing the fragile washi tissue onto thinly rolled out ink.
Details of Krista Mezzadri's work in progress, showing thin layers of washi tissue. (Photograph courtesy the artist @kristamezzadri).
W O O D
MARCO BELLINI, HIDEO SAWADA & MAIKO TSUTSUMI
Group of sculptures by Marco Bellini, 2023, wood, dimensions vary; for the group exhibition Weightless (9th - 14th May 2023) by
Maud & Mabel at Cromwell Place. (Photograph courtesy the artist @inu_do).
Marco Bellini lives and works in Italy. His background in philosophy and classics inform his artistic conception where his wooden sculptural pieces are evocations of sacred idol forms. Placed in lived spaces, these sculptures recall a distant time before the disciplinary separation of knowledge; where science and spiritual belief, the sacred and profane were intertwined. To achieve the effects alluding to his vision of archaic veneration, the artist begins by cutting the log with a chainsaw and splitting the log into quarters. The quarter is turned on the lathe and shaped into its basic form, refined with organic flowing lines using drawknives, blades and rasps. The wood will then go through the process of charring, and oxides and rusts are added. After the wood has released its moisture and is oxidised after around two to three weeks, the artist sprays and waxes the pieces, finishing by further drying out the pieces.
On the left, a pair of charred wood sculptures by Marco Bellini, 2023, wood; on the right, details of a charred wood sculpture by Marco Bellini, for the group exhibition Weightless (9th - 14th May 2023) by Maud & Mabel at Cromwell Place. (Photograph courtesy the artist @inu_do).
Hideo Sawada is a Japanese wood sculptor, trained at Nuremberg’s Academy of Fine Arts in Germany. Sawada's figurative sculptural works are simple and powerful – the calculated and evocative carving adhere to Japanese traditional artistic philosophies. The stable composition of his sculptures give them a steadiness, counterbalanced by its small intimate scale and quiet details to make them approachable yet resolute. In Sawada's practice, ‘by destroying the form, the life inside can be expressed more vividly’. The generalised figural forms without facial features and expressions better capture the essence of his expression and creates room for viewers to image through his works. The patterns of wood are clearly visible, imbuing his sculptures with a sense of life.
Wooden sculptures by Hideo Sawada, on display at the group exhibition Weightless (9th - 14th May 2023) by Maud & Mabel at Cromwell Place. (Photograph courtesy the artist @sawadahideo).
Maiko Tsutsumi is a Japanese artist based in London. Tsutsumi trained in woodwork and Japanese lacquer work in Kyoto before studying furniture design at the Royal Academy of Art, London. She completed her practice-based PhD on The Poetics of Everyday Objects from Kingston University in 2007 and continue to research and explore the themes of material agency and tacit knowing. Tsutsumi's cites inspiration from ‘geometry, mythologies, folk objects, ancient architectural details and artefacts, geographical formations, and mathematics’. Her use of Japanese unrushi lacquer on simple forms designed for the everyday combines luxury with functionality. The difficult process of harvesting urushi, poisonous raw sap before processing, and laborious application makes lacquer an expensive material. The artist hand carves the wooden body before applying thin successive layers of lacquer, to be dried in highly controlled conditions (temperature of 25–30°C and humidity of 75–80%). This labour and thought intensive artistic process is condensed into the unpretentious pieces that are into functional, durable and meaningful.
Lacquer works by Maiko Tsutsumi, on display at the group exhibition Weightless (9th - 14th May 2023) by Maud & Mabel at Cromwell Place. (Photograph courtesy the artist @thingness).