Video: Claire Curneen on Gillian Lowndes
CC: 'Cup on Base'. It is a cup on base, isn't it? I love that title. It's really interesting, this kind of application on the cup. I don't know whether it's an actual broken cup and it's been reassembled, or whether she's cast it and broken it. It doesn't really matter, I suppose, but she's applied a kind of pointilism surface to it that you really don't see in the photograph of it. [It] really has that layered painterly quality. It's quite wonderful actually. It really is about material, this. It all seems to be bubbling and melting into itself and coming out of itself. I mean this here almost seems like the bottom of the kiln shelf, or something. It sometimes can [have] some of the most interesting things there. But [it's] a really wonderful way of introducing found materials like metals and firing it into the clay body and throwing caution to the wind, of that it doesn't have to be just clay.
The firing procedure can actually contribute to it whether it be metal and clay, and the fact that they have those similar oxides in them as well. There's a lovely kind of oxidised area there, [a] bleeded area there. It really travels throughout it, you get something there and that's almost picked up. [There's] another piece here and it travels around the objects. There's no one viewing point of it. I quite like that, the fact that you have to engage with it. This is really curious here, this [is] almost painted on top of a lot of found debris, this is almost found debris in the kiln and then decorated to make it something else. It's really quite clever. It's interesting.
When teaching I usually talk about Gillian Lowndes to a lot of students, to go and look at as somebody who explores and really stretches the possibilities of working with the material, with the clay material, and clay in different states as well; clay as a found object whether [this] is or not, clay in its melting state, which this is here, if I were to influx, and then clay as a filler for other things, for other materials like metals. It also has that narrative as well. It brings you to a place, this stepping stone, something crumbling or falling, because it rises to this point, the cup being on the top part of it, or the cup tumbling down. Yes.
MP: Do you like it?
CC: Yes, I really like it. I think it has an awful lot more in actually reading it than seeing it in print, particularly this quality on the cup, it's incredible. I don't know what it is, I think it's vanadium, or whether it's paint. I think it is a glaze. But I like the composition of how you place these objects, these fragments; it's all about the fragmentation of things and objects, and it gives [it] that story or narrative of a sense of place, or a landscape within these stepping stones. And I quite like this being mirrored, this application mirrored on the cup. And it throws you around a bit as well, uncertain of where to see it. Yes. But it's also stitch, it's almost sewn together.
[video clip starts] [It's] a bit unnerving holding it. I feel the sense that it's a very fragile thing, when you see all these pieces of wire which are physically almost holding it together. And it's quite nice, that idea of something stitched together, of the clay being a soft thing and the wire actually holding it together. But it also has a very 'line' quality which is very different to the density and the solidness of some of these pieces. There are some beautiful qualities there, that look like they're just found. And that's the celebratory thing about the nature of clay as well, because it can be something other than a smooth surface or a rendered, textured surface. This seems to be just burgeoning, it just seems to be exploding, which I think is very [much] what clay does. [video clip ends]