Material Presence, The National Eisteddfod of Wales, Y Sennedd

The National Eisteddfod of Wales, Y Sennedd
3rd – 11th August 2018


Winner of the Craft and Design Gold Medal Award
Winner of the CASW Purchase Prize
Winner of the Josef Herman People’s Choice Award


Material Presence was selected for the Craft and Design category within the Visual Arts exhibition at The National Eisteddfod of Wales 2018, and went on to be selected winner of three awards: the Craft and Design Gold Medal Award, the CASW Purchase Prize Award and the Josef Herman People’s Choice Award.

The National Eisteddfod is an annual festival, which celebrates the language and culture of Wales. It is a showcase of the visual and applied arts, music, literature and performance. Each year two artists are awarded a Gold Medal prize, one for Craft and Design and one for Fine Art.

Material Presence exists as a still life – a part cleared kitchen table made from walnut with a CNC milled surface, and the washing up made from a fine white porcelain. The intent of this work is to bring to the fore the intricacies of our everyday, to pay homage to the ordinary moments that punctuate our lives as they are lived. Through this focused attention on everyday domestic objects and an ordinary scene, the work also exists as a study of humanness; it is an endeavour to engage with the intangible and emotive aspects of life through material processes and form.
A colander, a saucepan, a skillet, mugs, cups, bowls have been carved from plaster, by hand or on a lathe, before being moulded and cast in porcelain. All evidence of the life and histories of these porcelain objects has been removed, the surfaces are smoothed and blemish free. They are arranged as one might find them on a kitchen surface – chaotic and jumbled – awaiting the moment when they will be washed up. Welling over the edge of a spoon, in the midst of these forms, is a pool of porcelain and flux. The heat of the kiln chamber has been used to seek out moments of fluidity. Through methodical trialling the porcelain and flux material becomes both a heaped teaspoon ready to tip into a cup, and liquid caught just before spilling over another spoon’s edge.
The kitchen table made from walnut features a rucked tablecloth marked by dishes that once sat upon it, a knife, a spoon, and remnants of food that has been eaten.
In contrast to the precise lines and blemish free surfaces of the porcelain forms, the defining edges of the items on this table’s surface are blurred, histories of a particular lived moment have been made solid, the table a monument to those histories.
There is a namelessness and an intimacy that this work hopes to convey, a disquieting and a wonder, and an invitation for tenderness towards an ordinary everyday moment.

On behalf of The National Eisteddfod of Wales 2018, Pete Telfer from Culture Colony visited my studio to film me talking about the materials, processes and ideas that underpin the work Material Presence, including the work done in collaboration with FabLab Cardiff.