That's a Wrap
I recently visited the Art in Clay Pottery and Ceramics Festival at the beautiful parklands of Hatfield House. Over 190 exhibitors were showcasing their work while the public had a chance to buy. Amongst some wonderful designers I came across the work of Zoe Hillyard. Her beautiful pots feature an amazing patchwork of detailed mismatched pattern. It looks like she has pieced together various broken patterned pots to create a new one, but I could not work out how they could have different patterns and still fit together so well.
On closer examination I could see she had in fact broken a pot and then wrapped each piece in patterned fabric before carefully hand stitching the pieces back together. Hillyard uses the tradition of hand-stitched patchwork as a mending process to revive discarded and broken ceramics. She uses long stitches to fix the wrapped fabric around the ceramic pieces, which are also used for decorative effect inside and outside the pots. She uses very small stitches that are hardly visible, to tightly re-assemble the pieces together. The type of fabrics she uses creates a subtle textile glaze.
Hillyard says ”The design process, for me, begins with materials – both raw and recycled and Ceramic Patchwork reflects this approach. It builds on my interest in hand craft processes, construction and form, and in my belief that items should be treasured for the long-term.”
Considering other artists that use the idea of textile wrapping to create illusions within their work I came across the artist and photographer Zander Olsen. The on going project called “Tree Line” is instillation based and fleeting in its conception unlike Hillyard’s timeless pieces. Olsen visits forests in Surrey, Hampshire and Wales wrapping tree trunks with white fabric creating a relationship with the trees and horizon line. This very carefully constructed site specific work transforms the landscape, the horizon seems to have been painted with a long stroke of semi transparent white paint or trees look like they have been painted to define the horizon.
These two artists employ very different approaches to the use of textiles that wrap and transform objects to beautiful effect. Both ideas are very simple but the processes involved are time consuming and exacting. Thorough analysis of each part of the process of construction ensures that the final pieces result in perfection. The artists would need to constantly step back from their work and ask themselves questions like: are the proportions perfect? Is the fabric choice right? Am I creating the correct pattern either across the pot or across the landscape. The detailed perfection of the pieces comes from this constant re-evaluation.
Both artists work require the viewer to look and then look again. Firstly taking in the beauty of the piece and secondly understanding the clever processes involved.