Off JOYA 2018: Collectif 4+1 Ceramic Au delà de la zone de confort

Published: 20.11.2018
Grace Horler Grace Horler
Grace Horler
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Each artist had to create a plaster mould taking into account the constraints of porcelain casting techniques. The mould was to be the starting point with an experimental approach stemming the creation of future pieces. Each artist was to create 4  pieces, one necklace, one brooch, one ring and one pair of earrings, plus an exquisite corpse (a master from the mould, original shape) to be continued. Other materials were also permitted to be used, therefore offering a great freedom in the interpretation and outcome.

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Violaine Ulmer, Necklace, Untitled, 2017, Porcelain, silver.

There’s the very obvious connection between the artists using the same material, however, I was curious as to how each one approached the task and what factors had influenced the outcome. To me, this exhibition spoke of change, evolution and adaptation. As one artist blindly received the core for what they had to build upon, leaving the making process slightly lead by what had been done before yet in the same breath with a freedom of exploration. As one piece fed into the other there was a subtle connection that linked them together that went deeper than the common thread of the porcelain.
The way this exhibition was displayed portrayed a professional setting with the white porcelain standing out against the black surfaces of the tables. The differentiating heights gave a motion that matched the passing round of the moulds as the pieces adapted and changed from one to another the layout had the same movement.

Virginie Bois, Necklace, Histoire de Vagin, 2018, from series envolles toi, Porcelain, glass, wood paint.

The artists spoke of their work:  We don't think one should talk about difference, but about identity. The way each one of us approaches form is closely linked to her proper style. First, the way porcelain is worked, but also the other materials used, the methods employed, or the way a topic is approached; eventually, each one of us has kept using her proper way of working.

Edith Bellod, Necklace, Piece #2, 2017, Porcelain, wood.

This exhibition showed a refreshing way of using porcelain. Within the ceramics world, this material is often referred to as a diva clay yet these four artists were able to manipulate the clay into some very delicate and serene forms and textures. Using a mould to create repeat forms the artists were able to achieve pieces with multiple interests changing the same form in a slightly different way for each piece. Combining the porcelain with metals, textiles and varying materials.
Although the pieces were all in porcelain there was a distinctive personality to each collection. Ultimately, we all have kept a personal approach; and it was the rules of the game that created the coherence of the total. If we really have to speak about difference, it would be linked to the personality of each of us.

Violaine Ulmer, earrings, Untitled, 2017, porcelain, silver.

Did you have preconceived ideas of what you wanted people's attitudes/ reactions to be to this exhibition? What do you wish more people to know about your work?
We didn't have any specific idea about the public's reaction. Our intention was mainly to show a creative process together with the final works. This is why we explained the rules, showed the moulds and presented the whole in a way to display the links between the final pieces.
The idea to share with the public that playful aspect that we had while working on the pieces was very important to us. We wanted to show our own responses, while at the same time inviting the public to take part of the game by searching which moulds belong to which piece or even questioning themselves what would have been their own replies.
The exposition is called beyond the comfort zone because we had to get creative with something that wasn't our own, and still we had to make it ours. The rules we had given to ourselves were the guides, but they also obliged us to go beyond.

What obstacles did you face using porcelain, was there certain ways this material behaves that restricted you?
Porcelain is a difficult material because of if inherent properties (hardness, shrinkage, deformation …); in consequence, it needs a certain amount of testing. Anticipation is fundamental if one wants to use porcelain for jewellery: the technical aspects like fasteners, locks, linkage... need to be considered in advance
Our biggest issue was time: We had 3 months to make the pieces from a mould. Which may seem long, but in reality is very little to become comfortable with a form coming from outside, experiment, make some first pieces, refine things, and then make the final piece.

How did the concept and idea to do this project start? Was there a particular method in who sent the mould to who first?
The very beginning of this adventure is the common denominator « porcelain », which in turn leads to the idea of production in series. This is where the fabrication process, where the mould enters the game.
We were geographically very dispersed, and so the question of how we could work together came up early. But the answer came pretty quickly as well: If we couldn't move, so the moulds would have to travel.
So the precious part were the moulds. We were always worried during shipping because they mustn't get damaged.
We have chosen arbitrarily to ship the moulds in a clockwise order. Each of us shipped the current working mould to the next and received another mould to experiment from the previous. Which was when we discovered for the first time the mould we had to use to continue. That was an important part of the rules: None of us knew the next mould before we received it.

Edith Bellod, Brooch, Piece #1,  2017, Porcelain, silver, ribbon, pearls, 8cm. 

Was there a prearranged agreement to keep the porcelain white and not use any bright glazes or slips or was this a similarity between the works that came naturally?
There wasn't any agreement about how to use a form: we had entire freedom about how to work the porcelain and the other materials used. Likewise, there wasn't a rule about the colour. It was a big surprise at the end that most of went for black and white. There was this reflection that we had while we discovered the totality of the project.

Núria Soley, Necklace, Untitled,  2018, Porcelain, silver. 

Exhibition tables showing the original moulds.

Edith Bellod, Virginie Bois, Núria Soley, Violaine Ulmer.


About the author

Grace Horler completed her training at the British Academy of jewellery in 2015. In 2018 she graduated with a Bachelor of Jewellery from Farnham UCA. Now, after her graduation, she has started working with Klimt02 as an intern. Meanwhile, she will continue creating her own jewellery.