17 Aug - 16 Sep 2023
Tue – Sat, 10 am – 6 pm
Make Hauser & Wirth’s summer exhibition in London, ‘Strange Friends’ brings together a collective of artist-makers exploring new conceptual narratives through mixed material disciplines including glass, clay and stone. Across large scale installations and still life compositions, the exhibition considers the way in which we interact with objects and how they in turn occupy space. Employing visual and tactile stimulation, the works question how we encounter the complexity and possibility of color and our sensory response to textural and surface finish.
Anchored by form and process, a rich and varied vocabulary of material interpretation emerges from each work. Playful and experimental investigations of functional forms and objects question familiar archetypes, reimagining notions of use and the everyday. A common thread remains throughout; a sculptural ambiguity and sense of curiosity, testifying to the dynamic breadth of contemporary material-led practice.
About the Makers
Ceramicist Alice Walton creates highly complex, multilayered labyrinthine forms infused with a rich tonal blending technique. Comprised of individual clay components, Walton’s abstract scenes emerge through a technique of repetitive and ritualistic mark-making, highlighting the tension between the meditative colored clays and kinetic surface furnish. Thin ribbons of porcelain ripple across the surfaces of Walton’s abstract sculptures. Gently sloped domes and pillars are covered in countless individual strips, which vary in thickness and length and add irregular texture and depth to the finished pieces.
In a world that is increasingly changing minute by minute, she attempts to slow down, allowing her to steadily evolve–brick by brick–her forms. Her work is about a consideration of the everyday, taking the time to notice the unseen things in our environment and re-evaluating them. The linear and chaotic, the regular and irregular. Pivoting from the literal into the imaginary and abstract.
Walton graduated with a BA (Hons) in Wood, Metal, Ceramics and Plastics from the University of Brighton, UK, followed by an MA in Ceramics from The Royal College of Art, London, UK in 2018. Walton has been an artist-in-residence with the European Ceramic Context in Denmark, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK and Cove Park, Scotland, UK. In 2017, she was awarded the Sir Eduardo Paolozzi Travel Scholarship and was the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust in 2018. Walton has exhibited worldwide including: Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK; Officine Saffi, Milan, Italy and Collect Fair, London, UK. In 2019, Walton was awarded the Wedgewood Prize at the British Ceramics Biennial.
James Shaw is a London-based designer who makes objects and furniture. His work aims to bring out the inherent beauty of diverse materials, often uniting or contrasting handmade and tactile qualities with the structured and systematised. Frequently, his work considers the resources around us, challenging the notions of ‘waste’ and ‘value’. He is probably best known for his work with recycled plastics, and his self-built extruding gun, which produces blobby, gloopy and baroque forms, creating objects of unexpected beauty from a problematic material.
Shaw is a graduate of The Royal College of Art’s design products program in London, UK. He now runs a studio in South London specializing in the design and manufacture of bespoke and production furniture and products, sculptural objects and material research. Shaw has exhibited internationally, including: Design Museum, London, UK; Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands and the Museum of Modern Art, New York NY.
Shaw’s past awards include being nominated for the Design Museum Designs of the Year Award (2013) and winning the Arc Chair Design Award (2013). His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York NY; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada and Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany.
Nicola Tassie is a London-based ceramic artist whose work traverses the boundaries of current ceramic practice to explore and manipulate the material and conceptual possibilities of domestic forms, investigating the relationship between function and art. With a desire to develop the language of ceramics and engage in questioning its contemporary relevance, the thrown object is re-assigned to serve a more visual, narrative or aesthetic role. For this exhibition, Tassie’s domestic wares also form the basis of more conceptual works, to display functional, functionally ambiguous and overtly sculptural works together in larger scale installations and ‘still life’ sets.
Tassie’s pieces vary widely in scale and form as she uses a variety of differing clay bodies and firing techniques. Surfaces are transformed through line-marking at different stages of the making-process; incised into the clay body, scored through the glazing or ‘sgraffitoed’ into the slip. Her works have been exhibited at Art Fair ‘Collect’: International Art Fair for Modern Craft and Design, London, UK; Fog Design Fair, San Francisco, CA and Tremenheere Sculpture Park, Cornwall, UK. Tassie was selected for the Crafts Council’s ‘A Future Made’ program, has exhibited during Miami Design Week (2016) and is now represented by Hostler Burrows Gallery in New York NY. She is a founding member of Standpoint Studios in London, UK.
Glass artist, Jochen Holz, produces vibrant, organically shaped glassware with a spontaneous energy. Holz specializes in lampworking, a technique that transforms prefabricated borosilicate glass tubes by melting with a torch. He is one of few makers practising the method in Britain, with each one-off piece of molten glass given shape and texture using bespoke tools. Holz’s approach to working with hot glass is always improvised and free formed, evoking animal and plant like shapes. His work with neon examines the possibilities of sculptural lighting, bypassing the conventional and opts instead for thick borosilicate glass tubing to create free-standing three-dimensional shapes. These pieces capture what can be achieved with conventional neon in terms of size and open up new aesthetic qualities within the neon tradition.
Always pushing perceived ideas of his material, Holz instils his works with character, shape and history–the antithesis of Walter Benjamin’s idea that glass is a ‘material with no aura’. Holz trained in Germany before studying Glass at Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh, UK and Royal College of Art, London, UK. He was awarded the Royal Society of Arts Award in 2000 and the Centre Prize at the Royal College of Art in 2003. His recent exhibitions include: ‘Design House’, 14 Cavendish Square for London Design Festival, London, UK (2021); ‘Lucid Dreams’, Shophouse Gallery, Hong Kong, China (2021); Frieze New York with Libby Sellers (virtual) (2021) and ’Blue Jeans and Brown Clay’, Kate MacGarry Gallery, London, UK (2021).
Marianne Huotari is a Helsinki-based ceramic and textile artist who reinterprets traditions in a modern way, by applying a version of the classic Finnish textile technique ‘Ryijy’, together with unpredictable materials. ‘Ryijy’ translates to ‘thick cloth’, referring to a method of loom weaving tapestries, often depicting geometric shapes or florals in colors traditionally sourced from plant dyes. Referencing these traditional Finnish tapestries, Huotari sculpts hundreds of oblong ceramic beads and petals by hand, before sewing them onto a metal frame with wire. The beads layer and bubble at will, similar to the woven knots in ‘Ryijy’.
Using ceramics in place of woollen yarn, her color palate mimics that of the original woolen fibers: creams and light greens alongside glowing pinks and blues populate her tapestries and free-standing sculptures. With her pieces she explores hecticness of modern days through slowness of craftsmanship. Each of her ceramic works is approached with tenderness, whether it be a bead passing through her fingers or a wall hanging requiring countless hours of stitching.
Huotari lives and works in Helsinki, Finland, where she is a member of the Arabia Art Department Society. Her work has been shown widely in Finland, as well as throughout Europe, Asia and the US. Huotari serves as the Creative Director for Helsinki-based design and rug company, Finarte. In 2022, Huotari was shortlisted for the Loewe Craft Prize and her work was exhibited at the Seoul Museum of Craft Arts, Seoul, South Korea.
Playing with notions of the second view, Julia Obermaier’s unconventional jewellery pieces bring to light the moments that would otherwise go unnoticed. Through a process of skilled delicacy, Obermaier approaches the limits and secrets of the stones to construct new spaces, hollowing insides with corners and nooks. Thin slices of colored gemstone fragments have been layered and overlapped to create sections of contrasting opacity and then joined together using colored resin. Enclosing a blank space, she intends for the free space generated to hold the wearers own personal feelings, perceptions and sensations. A means to protect the wearer’s inner space, like a second skin. Obermaier’s jewellery connects a sense of interiority with the outer world, every part of them is unique and an embodiment of unswayable nature. One is not like the other. It is a material that is loaded with fascination, myths and symbolic charge by humans.
Her series ‘Verborgen’ starts with the raw crystal and observes their natural inclusions, often highlighted with visible colored resin lines, when reassembling the stone fragments back together. Obermaier is a jeweler from Germany. After finishing her professional education as a goldsmith in Kaufbeuren-Neugablonz in 2012, she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Trier University of Applied Sciences, Department of Gemstones and Jewelry in Idar-Oberstein, Germany in 2016. In 2019 she successfully finished her Master of Advanced Design studies at University of Applied Sciences in Munich, Germany. Since 2016, she has had her own atelier in Kempten, Germany.
Through the medium of glass, Jinya Zhao explores themes of environment, emotions and personal experiences. In her current practice and research, she questions how blown glass can connect maker and viewer and its potential to evoke memories and the imagination through sublime qualities such as color, obscurity, revelation and form. Prompting a sense of ‘synesthetic touch’, the visual experience of her work enables others to follow their own journey from vision to touch. Re-invoking a multisensory approach to her blown glass artwork, she aims to extend beyond the visual and to connect us with the unreachable. Since 2019, Zhao has been developing collections of vessels that seek to evoke the ‘non-existent existence’ or the contradictory nature of the interior, exterior and empty space. For example, in some of the works she uses opaque and transparent layered blown glass to deliberately obscure the interior of the intricate organic forms that exude a mysterious aura that connects us to the blurred appearance the landscape takes on a cloudy or foggy day.
Born and raised in China, Jinya Zhao received her BA (Hons) from the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China (2017) and her MA (2019) and MRes (2021) from The Royal College of Art, London, UK. In 2019, Zhao was invited as Artist-in-Residence in Southern Illinois University, USA, and in 2022 Taoxichuan Glass Studio in Jingdezhen, China. She is currently pursuing her PhD at The Royal College of Art, London, UK. Her work is collected by museums and galleries internationally including; Prague Gallery of Czech Glass, Czechia; Qingdao Art Museum, China; Southern Illinois University, USA; Ulster Museum, Belfast, UK; and Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK.
About Make Hauser & Wirth
Make Hauser & Wirth is a dedicated space for contemporary making and the crafted object, committed to showcasing some of the world’s best emerging and established artist-makers. Make is a natural extension of the wider Hauser & Wirth gallery ethos, embracing art, craft, gardens, food and architecture. Since launching in 2018 in Somerset, UK, Make has presented work by over 80 artist-makers and provided valuable insights into material-led processes and the rich narratives of their practices. In addition to presentations in London, UK and Zurich, Switzerland, Make continues its international program in Southampton NY.
Works exhibited by Make embrace material truth, provenance, sustainability and the value of emotional engagement with the handmade. In addition to a varied exhibition program, Make has hosted practical workshops, discussions and studio visits to expand learning and engagement with makers and global craft organizations.
Image: Installation view, ‘Strange Friends,’ Make Hauser & Wirth London, 2023. Photo: Dave Watts
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