- “Everyone is welcome”
- Aesthetics of friendliness
- Why creatures?
“Everyone is welcome”
A particular personality trait I have, and one that I have always had, is a distinct sense of want for togetherness and inclusivity. I recall being a child and enjoying the premise of collecting all of a particular series, of toys or other collectible objects, even if some of said objects were not my favourite or first choice. Rather, there is something to be said about those objects or things that would otherwise be ‘left behind’ or excluded if I did not take them in too. There has always been a sense of responsibility towards togetherness in my history of things.
These feelings are also exercised when one of said collection is broken, damaged or less that perfect, and in fact the feeling towards this imperfect object exacerbates the sense of duty to include. Although nowadays there are less toys in my immediate possession, these feelings can still be found with plates or mugs, wherefore should a mug become chipped, I cannot bring myself to throw it away and exclude it from the others. The chipped mug still remains, and may even get used more, or at least more consciously than a) before and b) the others.
Yes these feelings are irrational – they are inanimate objects – but they are participants in my world, and I want to take responsibility towards what I can affect in this frenetic world, which in this case is looking after my things as if they were sentient, children or friends who share my world. Rationalities such as space, aesthetics (I.e. colour coordination) and practical uses (i.e. it might not function, if it is broken), are disregarded for the sake of inclusivity. Everyone is welcome.
There is also an underlying guilt towards waste and respect for the craftspeople behind each object and thing, which further underpins my emotional connection. I want to make sure the craftsmanship of each thing is respected by not treating the object as a throwaway, transient ‘chachki’.
Moreover, in my own work, over the last year or so (and looking further back), my creative output seems to be concerned with a few tropes which support these ‘inclusive’ obligations I have. Firstly, a lot of my work centre around multiples, or a series, and every object is different in its own way. This could be through individual organic fluctuations in the design, variations in decoration, or being made ‘with lax standards’. All objects are included, none are mistakes, and all make it to the final ‘display’.
Aesthetics of friendliness
Secondly, is the notion of friendliness, specifically the aesthetics of what makes an object ‘friendly’? A crowd of people don’t look lonely, whereas a single person does, so a multitude of objects makes for a friendly scene, and much of my practice concerns a group or series of things.
However on an individual level there has always been a concern for the things I make to look or suggest anthropomorphic qualities and friendly gestures – not explicit smiley faces and hugging arms, but the suggestion of a friendly creature or character. This can be seen through the large Tactiforms, which seem like they might have a head or face, or be looking up at a viewer/owner as if to be wanting to be picked up. The Mini Tactiforms also reference a personality through subtleties in visual language, in the way a slight roundness can suggest a face or belly, or 2 protrusions could be limbs, etc. The handheld-ness of these objects also encourage them to be picked up and ‘petted’, smoothed or stroked. Interestingly, when these objects were made available for sale, most people chose to purchase more than one. Could this be an aspect of the new owner wanting to maintain the ‘inclusivity’, and stop a single Tactiform from becoming lonely (at their new home).
Currently, I have exploring different ways to incorporate ‘friendly aesthetics’ into ceramic objects, for example an ‘almost-amorphous’ object which looks like it might have a head, or arms, or feet. These are seem to be an extension to the Tactiform series, in the sense that they are being modelled in a similar way, but this time with a different sense of purpose (beyond the textural experience). However these are elements of the Object, Language, Landscape project which are also present here…
…For a long time I have been unable to underpin why I feel a cactus is ‘cool’, or what I feel to be the ‘best’ object that I made. I think that it might be because the cactus embodies the aesthetics of friendliness that I have been thinking about, with its arms stretched up for a hug, it’s expressionless, yet emotive face, and the fact that as a group they all look happy together. The other objects all around all reference the sense of inclusion as their rationale – each object is welcome in the scene – which is the only decisive factor in the assemblage. They’re not a collection because they’re all edible, all consumable, all contemporary, all Western, all blue… they’re together because everyone is welcome.
Incidentally, the colour treatment is the only unifying attribute of the pieces in Object, Language, Landscape… for some people, the rationale of these objects existing together is that they’re all blue, so they belong together. However I want to avoid my future work being read as such and so I will explore a more diverse colour pallet or possibly centre on CMYK to reference all colours/a spectrum, and all colours are welcome.
Now I have some clarity to my rationale I feel ready to experiment and plan ways to visualise this to an audience.