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Re- reanimate, repair, meld & mend

Re- reanimate, repair, meld & mend / Saturday 10th October 2015 - Saturday 14th November 2015

Curated by the ceramic artist Paul Scott

This small selling exhibition, one of a series of curated shows at the Bluecoat, will feature the work of artists who are concerned with the re-use and reanimation of existent (often devalued or discarded) cultural material – Paul Scott 2015

Confirmed artists include Michael Brennand-Wood, Neil Brownsword, David Clarke, Robert Dawson, Bouke de Vries, Steve Dixon, Amy Douglas, Jenni Dutton, Matthew Harris, Bridget Harvey, Charlotte Hodes, Gitte Jungersen, Carol McNicoll, Livia Marin, Irene Nordli, Caroline Slotte, Linda Sormin, Hans Stofer & Jacy Wall.

Paul Scott will give our Annual Gardner-Medwin Lecture on Thursday 22nd October 2015, from 2.30 – 4.30pm. Tickets are now available, call 0151 7094014 for further details/to book.

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“[...] Re- Reanimate, Repair, Meld & Mend, Bluecoat Display Centre, The Bluecoat, College Lane Entrance, Liverpool, L1 3BZ [...]…”


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Michael Brennand-Wood is internationally regarded as one of the most innovative and inspiring artists working in textiles.

I’d travelled to Bath to pick up a suzani cloth I’d bought from a dealer. In the course of our conversation he mentioned that they routinely painted a worn carpet to hide the worn pathways, not in any duplicitous way but simply to extend the life of the rug.

It therefore became inevitable that I’d seek a carpet to work with and eventually sourced one and began to work on it in the studio in late 2011. Decisions were made to restore, possibly enhance but not to radically change the remnants of the existing colours. It took around two weeks to restore; I painted every knotted pixel mark by hand. At a certain moment the idea of introducing the space invaders into the field pattern presented itself as a comment on resource led warfare, the annexing of territories and the destruction of unfamiliar territories.

I don’t know who made this carpet. I’d like to think that as one maker to another I extended its life and in some way contributed towards a respect for the creativity of others from a region unfairly characterised.

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Born in 1953, Robert Dawson lives and works in London. He studied at Camberwell College of Arts and at the Royal College of Art (Department of Ceramics and Glass).

Robert Dawson speculates that life would be unbearable without the vulnerability engendered by its inherent uncertainties and mysteries. He likes to focus on the disconcerting, uncertain element and his body of work can be summed up, in his own words, as “aesthetic sabotage.”

The artist applies advanced photographic deformation and computerized image processing techniques to tiles or plates, creating odd perspectives and deforming traditional decorative motifs.

Most of his work reflects considerations pertaining to the nature of the decorated surface. However, the artist does not manifest a desire to break with the past. Instead, he proposes to re-examine the past, preserving emotional distance by resorting to anamorphosis and deformation of the motif.

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Born in Utrecht, The Netherlands, Bouke de Vries studied at the Design Academy  Eindhoven, and Central St Martin’s, London. After working with John Galliano, Stephen Jones and Zandra Rhodes, he switched careers and studied ceramics conservation and restoration at West Dean College.

Using his skills as a restorer, his ‘exploded’ artworks reclaim broken pots after their accidental trauma. He has called it ‘the beauty of destruction’. Instead of reconstructing them, he deconstructs them. Instead of hiding the evidence of this most dramatic episode in the life of a ceramic object, he emphasises their new status, instilling new virtues, new values, and moving their stories forward.

The more contemplative works echo the 17th- and 18th-century still-life paintings of his Dutch heritage, especially the flower paintings of the Golden Age, a tradition in which his hometown of Utretch was steeped (de Heem, van Alst, van Huysum inter alia), with their implied decay. By incorporating contemporary items a new vocabulary of symbolism evolves.

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Steve studied Fine Art at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and then Ceramics at the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1986.

Dixon combines his studio ceramic practice with regular forays into public and community arts. In 2000 he received an Arts Council Year of the Artist award for ‘Asylum’, a collaborative project with Amnesty International U.K. and Kosovan refugees. In 2006 he travelled to Australia to investigate the effects of dislocation on the creation of cultural artefacts, for ‘Beyond the Seas’, an AHRC funded practice-led research project. In 2007 he curated the exhibition ’200 Years: Slavery Now’, exploring issues of contemporary slavery in the year of the Bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.

Stephen Dixon is currently employed as Professorial Research Fellow in Contemporary Crafts at Manchester School of Art, investigating the contemporary printed image in ceramics. Specific research interests include the British satirical tradition (in both printmaking and ceramics), commemorative wares and ‘pop’ culture, and the development of socio-political narratives in contemporary ceramics.


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Amy is an artist and restorer and has been transforming broken Staffordshire into small sculptures over the last 5 years. Each piece is made using conservation materials and techniques.

The Art of Salmagundi                                                                                                                         The broken ceramic figures each have a unique break or loss in the body of the piece .Each figure had an original theme or identity .How they are broken dictates how they can be transformed.This adds an element of serendipity to the project. Amy intervenes on the original work with the result being  a new life and  a modern story. Using old folk tales and modern mythologies Amy transforms these antiquities into modern statements  of our times, seamlessy linking the past to the present through invisible application.

Staffordshire figures,were based on prints and pamphlets which advertised attractions at local country fairs. They often depicted curiosities, celebrities and heroes of the day. They were sold mostly at fairgrounds as ‘toys”, they were objects for the common man to take home for his mantelpiece, as a souvenir of the time.

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I trained in fine art and do not think of myself as a textile artist as I do not use textile techniques but I do think these labels are very fluid these days. I describe myself as a sculptor using mixed media, which covers a wide range of materials and construction methods.

About 10 years ago I became interested in finding my own images so started to experiment in making large wire and paper figurative constructions called ‘Wrapped Figures’. Gradually the ‘wrappings’ became the focus of the work and I started to explore conceptual clothing as a subject to put over my ideas.

Jenni has been working on a series of large sewn portraits of her mother who has Dementia. They were made initially in response to well loved photos from the family album, but developed as a vehicle for Jenni to respond as her Mother’s health gradually deteriorated. Issues around the inevitable loss of memory are explored through the techniques and materials used. The final 14 portraits will be shown at the City Hall, London in association with the Alzheimers Society in March 2015.

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I am not interested in ‘perfect’ textiles’ but rather in a cloth that is made imperfect as a result of tears, patches, darns and frayed edges. Held together with a utilitarian stitch, these random and chaotic interruptions in the pattern and surface of the cloth provide the impetus for my work.:

Pieces are constructed in response to drawings of things I have seen. Lines, marks, shapes and stains of colour are made to shift and seep their way across and through a ‘whole cloth’ that is built in sections. The resulting fragmentation and mismatching of pattern, line and image as it travels, creates the visual jolt or jarring which gives the pieces their discordant characteristic.”

– Matthew Harris

Matthew Harris works with both cloth and paper to create series of drawing/ collages and textiles. By a process of dyeing, cutting, piecing and stitching he constructs work that is primarily concerned with the translation of drawn marks into cloth.

Matthew Harris has taken part in many shows throughout the U.K , Europe, U.S.A and Japan. He has work in the Crafts Council Collection and the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. In 2009 he was short listed for the first Arts Foundation Award for Textile Art.

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Charlotte Hodes’ practice as an artist takes the form of painting, collage, ceramics and glass.

From 1998 until 2004 she embarked on a series of projects at the Spode factory in Staffordshire, with unrestricted access to their archive transfers, where she worked on unique, ‘one-off’ pieces including two dinner services, one of which was included in the 2003 Design Biennial at the Design Museum London. In 2002 she exhibited Cacophony; a cabinet of 35 vases, a ceramic installation at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

In 2005 she was appointed as the first Associate Artist at the Wallace Collection London making papercuts & ceramics in response to 18th century Fête galante paintings and Sèvres porcelain in the collection. This culminated in a solo exhibition at the Wallace Collection in 2007.

As winner of the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2006 she participated in Drawing Breath, the survey UK touring exhibition of Jerwood prize winners & was one of three exhibitors with the 2010 Jerwood Visual Arts Programme’s show ‘Inscriptions: Thinking/Drawing/Making’ at the Jerwood Space Gallery London.

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Livia Marin is a London-based Chilean artist whose work has been characterized throughout by large-scale installations and the appropriation of mass-produced and mass-consumed objects.

Her work was initially informed by the immediate social and political context of Chile in the 1990s that amounted to a transition from a profoundly overt disciplinary regime (given by seventeen years of dictatorship) to an economically disciplinary regime with a strongly developed neo-liberal economic agenda.

She employs everyday objects to enquire into the nature of how we relate to material objects in an era dominated by standardization and global circulation. In this, the work seeks to offer a reflection on the relationship we develop with those often unseen objects that meet our daily needs. Central to the work is a trope of estrangement that works to reverse an excess of familiarity that commands the life of the everyday and the dictates of the marketplace.

Marin has exhibited widely both in her native Chile and internationally.

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Ex­tremely well-known through­out Nor­way, Irene Nordli is a        ce­ramist from a gen­er­a­tion of con­cep­tual artists who have            re­con­sid­ered pop­u­lar Nordic art.

Based on clas­si­cal porce­lain codes and in­spired by tra­di­tional char­ac­ters, she in­vents new sil­hou­ettes; her pieces, which can be in the form of col­lages of parts of the hu­man body, are of­ten quite dis­turb­ing. Whether they are mat or glossy, they always unveil the sensuality of clay.

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Caroline Slotte (b. 1975) lives and works in Helsinki, Finland.

Caroline Slotte holds an MA in Ceramics from Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Norway, in addition to education from Denmark and Finland. From 2007 to 2011 Slotte was a research fellow in the Norwegian Artistic Research Fellowship Programme. Affiliated with Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Dept of Specialised Art, she was also a member of the interdisciplinary research project Creating Art Value, funded by the Research Council of Norway.

The reworking of second hand objects play a pivotal role in Caroline Slotte´s practice. She manipulates found materials, primarily ceramic everyday items, so that they take on new meanings. The tensions between the recognizable and the enigmatic, the ordinary and the unexpected are recurring thematic concerns. More recent explorations reveal an expanded interest in material perception and material recognition, teasing out situations where the initial visual identification fails resulting in an unsettling state of material confusion. Demonstrating an engaged sensitivity towards the associations, memories and narratives inherent in the objects, Slotte´s intricate physical interventions allows us to see things we would otherwise not have seen.

Slotte’s works have been exhibited internationally and acquired by, among others, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Röhsska Museum in Gothenburg, the Design Museum in Helsinki and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Oslo.

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Through objects and site-specific installations, Linda Sormin’s work explores issues of fragility, aggression, mobility and survival. Born in Bangkok, Sormin moved to Canada with her family at the age of five.

She has a BA in English Literature and worked in community development for four years in Thailand and Laos. She studied ceramics at Andrews University, Sheridan School of Craft & Design (diploma 2001) and Alfred University (MFA 2003).

Sormin’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, most recently at Jane Hartsook Gallery (New York, NY), the West Norway Museum of Decorative Art (Bergen, Norway), Denver Art Museum (Denver, USA), gl Holtegaard (Denmark), Vallauris (France) and Middlesbrough (UK).

She has taught ceramics for more than 10 years – at Emily Carr University of Art + Design (Vancouver, BC, 2003-2006) the Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI, 2006-2011), and Sheridan Institute, where she is currently Professor and Head of Ceramics (Oakville, ON) in the Faculty of Animation, Art & Design.

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I began my career as an artist working in the medium of woven tapestry, and more recently in painting and printmaking as well. My work in all of these media is about textiles in the broadest sense, and most often about the mending of textiles. My use of mending imagery explores a range of ideas, to do with an emotional response to the history implicit in visible damage, and with the kinds of beauty arrived at in the methods of mending it.

I have recently completed the first stage of a long term project which aims to broaden approaches to mending, particularly in a museum context.

‘There is an undeniable eroticism in Jacy Wall’s woven and cut textiles, they speak of concealment, hidden secrets and of a time when garments were not discarded when they became worn’ – Fiona Robinson, 2010

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My work comes out of a fascination for ceramics’ transformation from formless, raw materials to a fused and fired stiffened movement.

In recent years, I have concentrated on investigating how the juxtaposition of unique, modelled elements and industrially-produced figures can generate a narrative content.

In the series Place to be Lost, the ceramic firing is used in a literal sense to fuse a factory-produced porcelain animal with unique abstract elements. Even in the physical fusion, the porcelain figure and the abstract landscape appear as alien physical materials, as elements from two different worlds. The unique stands in contrast to the mass-produced, yet comes together as a homogenous whole to form a new and more disturbing narrative.

The works appear as landscapes or architectural scenes, powerfully dissolved in extreme amounts of fluid, bubbling glazes, triggering a feeling of the uncontrollable and the catastrophic, despite the fact that the ceramic materiality appear as beautiful and alluring to the senses. Whether it is imminent dissolution that awaits, or a new narrative about to take shape, remains open.

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Neil Brownsword is an artist, senior lecturer and researcher at Buckinghamshire New University. His PhD thesis (completed in 2006) combined historical and archaeological research on ceramic production in North Staffordshire from the eighteenth century to the present; the film archiving of craft skills in the industry today; and the creation of a body of artwork in response to this research. The resultant ‘narrative’ sheds light upon Britain’s contemporary “post-industrial” experience as well as its industrial past.

Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1995, Brownsword’s work has gained both national and international acclaim, and is positioned at the forefront of experimental ceramic practice in Great Britain. It resides in eminent public and private collections worldwide, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and Crafts Council, London and Fu Le International Ceramic Art Museum, China. He continues to engage in prestigious research residencies that include the European Ceramic Work Centre, Holland; International Ceramic Research Centre, Denmark; and recently Fu Le International Ceramic Art Museum in Shaanxi, China.

For nearly a decade, Neil Brownsword’s work has been a sustained mediation on the decline of British ceramic manufacture in his home town of Stoke-on-Trent – a first hand knowledge that has accrued since he was apprenticed at the age of 16, at the Josiah Wedgwood factory. Assuming the role of artist/archaeologist, Brownsword unearths/ salvages by-products from the histories ceramic production and regenerates these symbolically charged vestiges of labour into poetic abstract amalgams. Through its metaphoric exploration of absence, fragmentation and the discarded, his work signifies the inevitable effects of global capitalism which continue to disrupt indigenous skills and a heritage economy rooted in North Staffordshire for nearly three centuries. In 2009 he won the One Off category at the British Ceramic Biennial, and continues to exhibit both nationally and internationally.

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Hans Stofer was born in 1957 and brought up in Switzerland, where he trained as a precision engineer before entering the Zurich School of Art. There he studied jewellery and design. In 1984 he set up his first studio in Zurich. In 1987 he emigrated to England and settled in London where he now works.

Stofer’s thinking is not dissimilar to that of Dada – the irreverent anti-art movement which flourished in the early twentieth century. This irrational spirit in arts, interestingly also born in Zurich, has been the core of his outlook and thinking.

Hans Stofer is an engineer who works as an artist and teacher and who is deeply interested in stuff as a medium to investigate issues and needs relating to ‘the human condition’.

He first and foremost believes in the power of art to respond to arbitrary standardisation and nonsensical structures – to make sense and to create a multitude of alternative universes.

Inevitably, this is inseparable from and closely bound up with Hans Stofer’s development as an individual.

The governing principle that he deploys is the spontaneous use and appreciation of all art forms and objects available to him to free the imagination from established, often senseless and banal, legislation of life.

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Bridget Harvey’s practice is tactile and desirable; visual and ornamental, inspired by costume, patina and narrative, occupying a liminal space between design, craft and fine art. Her work has been described as exploring ‘themes of carnival, folk art and tribal display with a touch of Blackpool thrown in’. Using traditional and new techniques to create functional sculptures, handmade in wood and other elements, her contemporary craft objects are designed and handmade in limited, collectable quantities and as one-off pieces.

Having studied textiles, followed by design and craft making, she uses materials, form and joining methods to investigate time, play and the potential for visible making and repair to flourish. Her slow design practice is rooted in design activism; environmentally and socially conscious, manifesting research through practice and seeking mindful connections between hand, process and thing.

Within her practice she undertakes residencies, facilitates workshops and other events, curates and writes. She is currently studying towards a practice based AHRC PhD exploring repair and hand(re)making at CWW, UAL with the TED Research group. Within this she seeks to define repair as part of an expanded design practice, using it to explore materials, joining methods and durability.

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David Clarke is often cited as one of Britain’s most highly innovative silversmiths. Producing a wealth of covetable objects, pivotal in the renaissance of contemporary British silversmithing and metalwork.

David is one of the strongest metal smiths currently working and easily the most prominent avant-garde figure in the medium in the UK. Through his own studio work, he has mounted a vibrant challenge to settled assumptions about his medium. While he is capable of good craftsmanship, the value of his work is primarily expressive, conceptual and poetic. And because of his rather devilish turn of mind – he has a wicked sense of humour and satire, and an ability to poke holes in inflated values – he has had a dramatic effect in exhibition contexts here. He is like a jester in the court of contemporary craft’. Glenn Adamson, Director of the Museum of Arts & Design, NYC.

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McNicoll was born in Solihull, Birmingham in 1943. She attended a foundation course at Solihull College of Technology and then studied fine art at Leeds Polytechnic from 1967 to 1970. In 1968 she made a film with three other students titled Musical which collaged and parodied existing musicals, comedian Roy Hudd was invited to open the premiere. McNicoll was awarded a Princess of Wales Scholarship to attend Royal College of Art from 1970 to 1973, where she felt women were “marginalised” and “attention went to the men who were interested in industrial ceramics”.

McNicoll worked as a wardrobe assistant at theatres in Birmingham and London in the early 1960s. In 1970 she designed costumes for Brian Eno of Roxy Music who was then her boyfriend. Her black cockerel feathered boa collar achieved an iconic status in the fledgling glamrock period. McNicoll supervised the design of the cover for Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets album with one of her teapot designs being featured on the sleeve cover.She also worked as a machinist for fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, who in 1972 commissioned her to make a unique dinner set, consisting of pink coffee cups with hands for saucers.

McNicoll makes sculptural functional ceramics and has lectured widely including at Camberwell College of Arts from 1986 to 2000. In 2001 she was short-listed for the Jerwood Prize for Ceramics. Recent work has been constructed from slipcast and found objects such as toy soldiers, using commercial and self made transfer decoration.

McNicoll says of her work “I am entertained by making functional objects which are both richly patterned and comment on the strange world we have created for ourselves.” She exhibits internationally and in 2003 City Gallery at Leicester, England presented a major retrospective of her work. Her work is in the V&A’s modern collection.

McNicoll lives and works in a converted piano factory in Camden Town London, designed by her friend the architect Piers Gough in exchange for a McNicoll teaser.

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