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28. November, 2010 / Idun

… and the website is up!

My new website is now up and running. To have a look, please go to idunsira.com.

There are plenty of galleries with pictures of both new and old work, and there is some information about me, my background, and past/current/future events and exhibitions.  There is also contact information if you would like to get in touch with me for f.ex. commissions or more information.

That was idunsira.com!

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6. November, 2010 / Idun

Talente 2011, Munich

My work is going to Munich! I received an email the other day that I have been selected to participate in the Talente 2011 exhibition, and I am so excited! I will be sending some of the work from my master show.

Talente is an annual competition for new talent in the areas of design and technology. The focus of the competition is on work that shines through its formal and technical originality and technical perfection, and is ahead of its time.

The competition is being organised by the Munich and Upper Bavarian Chamber of Skilled Trades and jointly sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour and the Bavarian State Ministry for Economics, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology. Talente takes place every year as a special exhibition during the Munich International Skilled Trades Fair in early March, in 2011 from the 16th to the 22nd of March. Projects by around 90 participants from ca. 25 countries are exhibited in specially designed exhibition spaces over around 600 m2.

 

Here are my objects that were chosen to be in the exhibition in March 2011.

19. September, 2010 / Idun

Interior lighting tests

I recently did a few light tests with my vessels, exploring how artificial light might affect them. I used a simple spot to light them from the inside. I have until now only used natural light, and focusing on the interior space in the vessels, but seeing how the exterior light affects the void inside, I thought I would want to do a bit of exploration into switching the roles around, and bringing the light into the vessel and explore the how exterior surface is affected.

I am very pleased with the results of these little tests. It is a wonderful way of taking the interior effect and bring it to the surface. It also beautifully underlines the building technique, clearly showing the uneven thickness and every mark my fingers have made during the build. The light is wonderfully soft, and the various colours and their placement can create some very interesting light effects. You can clearly see how the presence of colour really affects the light flow. I find this immensely interesting, and I can definitely see myself incorporating artificial light in future work.

18. September, 2010 / Idun

To the limit

What is really interesting about the way I build my vessels is how stable they are. The two pictures below is of an early test. In the left picture you can see that the top right side corner has quite a large hole. This was made (accidentally by myself) even before it was fired. The hole, however, made no difference to the vessel itself during firing, as you can clearly see in the picture on the right side. No sinking, no dis-formation. The building method is just THAT stable. I find that really amazing.

The walls in the vessels are very very thin, we are talking about 1-2 mm throughout the entire height. Obviously a thin wall like that can not hold an infinite amount of weight. I tested this by building very tall vessels shown in the picture below, the tallest being over 1 metre high. Although they still fired quite nicely, you can start seeing the affect the extra weight has on the lower parts of the vessels. In all three vessels you can clearly see the lower parts starting to collapse under the weight of the higher parts of the vessels, and they are starting to lean slightly. In the cuboid the walls are starting to collapse inwards on all sides, so it is starting to implode on itself, if you will. Even though they have started to collapse, I am amazed that they have not collapsed more! Incredibly sturdy.

25. August, 2010 / Idun

Spheres – continued

As  I have written previously, I have particularly thinking about the sphere, and how to build it. Unfortunately the firing of my wafer thin sphere did not go according to plan. It sank quite a bit, and caused the rim to move and shift. Not a very successful firing. This is not because of the thickness of the clay, but rather the size of the vessel. In the same kiln I fired a sphere made with thicker walls that have thin “spots” to let the light in – as I have been exploring previously in the module. This sphere was of the same size, and it also sank quite a bit. Admittedly not quite as much as the thin vessel due to the thickness of the walls. Thicker walls do give better support. I also think I prefer the look of the thicker vessel.

The question now is what to do about it. Initially the thought was to try building larger and larger pieces, including the spheres. However, what has been going around in my mind is what a “piece” consists of. Does one piece necessarily have to be one object? I have been doing many comparisons, with light and colour, and I think that the different pieces should reflect that. I have come to the decision of grouping vessels together to show contrasts and changes that occur, for example a series of vessel showing the effect of placement of colour, and how the light changes according to this placement.

I also want to scale the vessels according to the number of vessels in a group. Fewer vessels meaning larger vessels, making the groupings roughly the same size regardless of the number of vessels. Then why not have several smaller spheres? I think a smaller sphere would be an interesting contrast to the taller vessels, like the cone or cylinder. The sphere is very different from the other forms, and I think it would be interesting to accentuate that difference with smaller spheres.

13. August, 2010 / Idun

Spheres

I have been twisting my mind on what to do with my spheres, or rather how to build them. The problem is that, unlike the other forms, the sphere is far less stable. Building in a vertical line is far less challenging because the forces in the structure only goes one way: down. The gravitational pull, and the weight of the other layers only press downwards, and as long as the walls themselves are fairly straight, they can hold the weight easily. In the sphere this is not the case. Since it is round (as spheres usually are) the walls and forces are not lined up, and it can more easily collapse if not strong enough to support its own weight. This becomes more of an issue the bigger the sphere becomes.

What I think will solve the problem of building is to build in a way where the sphere has more support in thicker parts, while still retaining patches of wafer thin clay to allow light flow. I started making the walls generally thicker, and pinching thin finger marks. I would work in a layered manner as in the other forms. The light flow was, however, rather limited, and I looked into another way of building.

By using smaller thin patches like in the images below, a grid of thicker walls is created by the overlapping clay, hopefully giving enough support during the firing process. The technique also more closely resembles the other forms, uniting them. I definitely prefer the upper part of the sphere where the patches have turned more square. The round patches in the bottom part really reminds me more of a pinecone. In my opinion, the square patches give a sense of system and order.

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6. August, 2010 / Idun

Light and colour

The placement of colour has a significant impact on the light inside the vessel. It also affects the visual boundaries between the surrounding space and the vessel itself.

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This vessel creates clear boundaries both in the interior and exterior of the vessel. The colour contains the light inside by surrounding it on either side. The light is floating in darkness. The colour on the exterior creates a clear line between the vessel and the surrounding space. There is no translucency to blur the boundaries.

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This vessel is quite similar in character to the first. The light is very much contained within the vessel by the colour, but not in the same way; it is not floating in the darkness, the light is contained in the bottom. However, the light seems less trapped in this vessel as it is not completely surrounded by colour.

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In this vessel there are quite a few changes. Rather than completely containing the light in the vessel, the colour is dividing it; one part being contained in the bottom of the vessel, and the other escaping. The boundary between the vessel and the surrounding space is far more blurred when the edges are white porcelain. The translucency allows for a flow of light, which erases the sharp line that a coloured edge creates.

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This vessel has its feet firmly planted on the ground; the colour makes the vessel bottom-heavy. The light in this vessel seems to be escaping the dark coloured bottom, much like in the previous vessel.

The balance between colour and porcelain seems a bit off in this vessel. I believe that a more even use would give the vessel more balance.

30. July, 2010 / Idun

Translucency and light

A continued exploration of light and colour.

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The trapping effect seems to be increased by the height of the vessel, and the darkness of the rim. A more dramatic contrast intensifies the light, and it appears to be boxed in by the colour. The effect also seems stronger when the vessel is narrow, letting little light flow from the top down into the vessel, making the top darker, accentuating the contrast to the porcelain.

In these two vessels I wanted to see how a contrasting line will affect the light and form. The form itself becomes, not surprisingly, divided by the band of colour. The light inside looks quite interesting, and the effect is much what I hoped it would be. In the dense darker vessel a band of light appears because of the contrasting translucent porcelain. The band appears to float inside, trapped by the colour on either side. In the lighter vessel the effect is, for obvious reasons, quite the opposite. Rather than having a trapped band of colour, the flow of light from the porcelain is separated by this band. I believe that both effects could possibly be enhanced by having larger bands.

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When making spheres I quickly realised that I had to find a different approach to building. The already well-practised building technique I have been using made the spheres far too unstable, and they would frequently collapse already during the build itself, not even surviving to a firing cycle. Making the sphere stronger by making the walls thicker was obviously out of the question, seeing the translucency is dependent on how thin the clay is. By making the walls thicker, but leaving patches of thin clay, the structure becomes more stable and still lets the light flow through. The technique still leaves a hand built look, similar to the other building technique I use on the other forms. Though making the patches slightly larger or place them closer together would probably create a greater light effect, and unite the spheres more with the other forms.

26. July, 2010 / Idun

Experimentation – cubism and combination

I have considered combining several shapes in my vessels, much like how I am now using several colours in one vessel. I decided to do some experimentation with my old geometric vessels to roughly explore this idea as a possible way forward.

I have decided, however, that by making the vessels too complicated, I am leaving the very foundation of what I am working with; purity. Purity in clay, purity in form. I think that I want to hold on to this purity, keeping the vessels simple, and perhaps combine forms in series rather than in one vessel. I am really a bit of a minimalist.

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26. July, 2010 / Idun

Translucency

Lately I have been working with translucency in clay, and I have become fascinated by the translucency of wafer thin vitrified porcelain. Combined with my colour explorations, I have for a while had the idea of combining the colours with the translucency to “trap” light inside vessels. Porcelain is highly translucent, however, as soon as the terracotta is added the amount of light that is allowed to flow through the fired clay quickly becomes limited. The presence of colour means the absence of light.

It is quite interesting how this directly relates to how we perceive colour. When we see colours, it is because object reflects certain wavelengths of light (colours), and absorb all other. So a red apple will absorb all colour except red, thus the apple will appear red to us. White objects reflect all colour, while black objects absorb everything. The porcelain allows the flow of light. It is white and translucent. Once colour is introduced the light is absorbed, and the barrier that prevents light from flowing becomes more dense, as shown in the images below.

Tests so far have shown that using the different colours can allow an illusion of light being contained in a vessel, shown in the lower image. I believe that varying the position of colours might allow for the light to escape, to be contained, or to be divided. That shall be the next step in my explorations.

23. July, 2010 / Idun

Trees – Piet Mondrian

The Dutch painter Piet Mondrian was an important contributor to the De Stilj movement and group in the early 1900’s. He undoubtedly most known to the general public for his “Neo-Plastic” paintings; a white background upon which he painted a grid of horizontal and vertical black lines, and fields of the primary colours. Less known is his period in Paris between 1911 and 1914, where he was heavily influenced by Picasso and Braque, embracing the Cubist style. Important for this period was a series of studies of tree, reduced to lines and space.

22. July, 2010 / Idun

Gwyn Hanssen Pigott

Ceramicist Gwyn Hanssen Pigott is recognized as one of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists. Her career has so far stretched over 45 years, and early influences from various apprenticeships with English potters are still apparent. She uses wood-fired porcelain, with a subtle palette inspired by the Chinese Song Dynasty wares.

What strikes me is how her still life arrangements of tableware objects seem to be heavily influenced by the paintings of Giorgio Morandi, and it really appeals to me. The hazy tone, the subtle colour palette, and the simplicity of the object in the arrangements.

22. July, 2010 / Idun

Sara Moorhouse

Ceramisist Sara Moorhouse has in her PhD been researching how application of colour can alter the spatial activity in three-dimensional forms. She has discovered a phenomena that she has termed the “tilt effect”. This is an illusion that appears when bands of colour are applied to a three-dimensional conical form, and this bends the form and created tension between the inner and outer surfaces.

She has always been interested in landscape scenes, and this is where the inspiration for her objects come from. The PhD studio investigation began with a vessel derived from a landscape scene aswell, Table Mountain in the Black Mountains in the south of Wales. A field study showed the alteration of colour and light throughout the day. She would then distil the scene into an abstract series of banded panels that reflect the changes of hue and space in the landscape, creating interestingly decorated conical vessels.

I find it very interesting the impact colour can have on objects. Darker colours make them seem more compact and heavy, lighter colours can give the illusion of light and space. It hardly surprises me that Sara Moorhouse has discovered such an interesting “tilt effect” while playing with changes in space and light. I would say it is almost inevitable that there would appear tension between contrast in colour. The inevitability, however, does not make the discovery any less fascinating.

12. July, 2010 / Idun

Giorgio Morandi

Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) was one of the most impressive Italian painters of his time, specialising almost exclusively in still life and landscape paintings. In his early years Morandi explored styles closely related to Cézanne and Cubism, and for a brief period he took a dive into the Italian art movement of Metaphysical painting. It was after this period in his life that Morandi developed the style that he is known for.

He focused increasingly on subtle gradations of hue, tone, and the arrangement of objects in a unifying atmospheric haze. He would limit his use of subjects to bottles, boxes and the like, and he would remove their labels and use matte colours to remove reflections and lettering. By doing this he created a range of anonymous objects which he could then arrange and rearrange to explore their abstract qualities and the relationship between them. When grouped together the bottles and boxes gain an almost monumental quality, resembling the architecture of medieval Italy.

What I personally find most interesting about Morandi’s paintings is his use of colour, and the simplicity of the subject. The colours are very subtle and natural, which gives the forms focus. The simplicity of the paintings almost show traces of both cubism and minimalism, creating a very pure style. The colours of many of his paintings are very similar to my own palette; cool and subtle “hazy” colours.

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6. July, 2010 / Idun

Cubism

In the 20th century Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque pioneered in the avant-garde art movement that revolutionised European painting and sculpture; Cubism.


Picasso, Woman playing Mandolin

During the late 19th and 20th century, the cultural elite of Europe discovered African, Micronesian, and Native American art for the first time. The artists of the time were intrigued by the simplicity and stark power of the foreign cultures, artists such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, and Henri Matisse. There are two major branches to the artistic movement of Cubism; Analytic and Synthetic.

Analytic Cubism was developed between 1908 and 1912, and was the form that initiated the Cubism art movement. As the name implies, the analytic cubists “analysed” the natural world and its forms and reduced the forms into basic geometric parts, creating a completely two-dimensional picture plane. In analytic cubism there was hardly any use of colour, only a monochromatic scheme that often included grey, blue and ochre. The focus was instead set towards the use of geometric forms such as the cylinder, sphere and the cone to represent the natural world. Both Picasso and Braque was moving towards abstraction, but would leave a hint of their original subject. Much inspiration was found in the work of Paul Cézanne, who said to observe and treat the natural world as if it was composed of cubes, spheres, cylinders, and cones.

Synthetic Cubism, the second movement within Cubism, was developed between 1912 and 1919 by Juan Gris and others in addition to the already well-established cubists Picasso and Braque. Synthetic Cubism introduced new characteristics through different textures and surfaces, a variety of merged subject matter, collage elements, and papier collé. Synthetic Cubism introduced collage elements as an important ingredient to fine art. It was quite common to include newspaper clippings and sheet music into the paintings. Where analytic Cubism was an analysis of subjects and pulling them apart into planes, synthetic Cubism would push several objects together. Synthetic Cubism was less pure, had fewer planar shifts, and less shading – creating a flatter space.

Cubism did not only apply to paintings, but also to sculpture, architecture, and to some extent writing. Gertrude Stein used repetition and repetitive phrases in her writing as building blocks in both passages and whole chapters. Cubism made itself apparent in the Czech Republic through the architects Josef Chochol, Pavel Janák and Josef Gočár.