Emmanuel Cooper on Gillian Lowndes
EC: It's an interesting title and I was particularly keen to know whether it had a title because having a title immediately puts it in the realm of sculpture. You give titles to pieces of sculpture. I mean you might say they're 'Untitled' but you know they will always have a title of some sort. And so by calling it 'Cup and Base' or whatever, it locates it in that field and that of course is where it is.
[video clip starts] It's made out of clay, it's made out of wire, and it might be made out of other things too - it's hard to know. So in a sense we've moved from the world of the vessel and container to the world of sculpture. And although this is related to ceramics and ceramic making through the cup - and this is an industrial cup which has been fired and glazed and stuck on - what we've got here is a commentary, much more from a sculptural point of view, both on the nature of clay and these textures and surfaces that you can get when you fire it in the kiln, and also on the detritus of modern times and the way we throw away things. [video clip ends]
The way that shards - which is what this cup is, a bit of an old cup - can tell us so much about that civilisation and we archaeologists go round excavating bits like this. And what about this little bit of metal which is round here? And the little bit of what looks like rock, quartz rock here? It's become something that, again in the way that you do with the Richard Slee, you've got to start to deconstruct if you like, to look at and think, what are all these things going on? It does look like it is a piece hewn from the ground. It does have that quality. It looks like it's been buried and that like a load of builder's rubble, suddenly things have started to stick together over time. And what you've got is an intriguing collage of different bits of the world in which we live. We've got rock, we've got bits of old metal, we've got bits of broken cup, we've got these wires which somehow have a sense of linking the whole thing together. And then we've got these textures.
But in the end we've got the sort of cup and saucer. And although it's called 'Cup with Base' it actually is like a cup and saucer in a funny sort of way. It's what could have been a cup and saucer. But I actually don't think of it like that. I just think of it as a piece of sculpture, as a form with a cup on the top which might relate to this being a saucer or not. It's not a saucer to look at. But I just look at it as a form and think how pleasing it is, the fact that you can get a certain element of light under here, shadow, which elevates it from the ground, the whole thing sits on the ground with lots of space underneath it. So it's actually floating. It looks like it's floating on the ground. And that gives it an enormously satisfying quality because although this looks very solid, and indeed it is very solid, it still seems to float, it has a lightness to it.
All these things are to do with sculpture, they're not to do with the references if you like of the ceramic world. But just to turn it round once more when you see these layers you begin to get some understanding of the way that Gillian Lowndes is looking at the layers, whether they're of history, archaeology, memory, our experience. And I think that you can start to read it as a metaphor as well as what I think is actually a terribly interesting object. And I think she's very good at making interesting objects.
MP: Do you like it?
EC: Yes, I do like it, yes.