Prue Venables


Prue Venables


Black Oval Vessel with Two Spoons
limoges porcelain, jingdezhen porcelain, fine silver
46 x 15.5 x 28cm

This work so artfully combines stillness and a sense of risk, of fragility. Sometimes it is a single object – a pierced ladle with a precariously long stem, perhaps, or a scoop with an elegant, daring, ribbon-like handle, that surprises and then calms. Then there are those seemingly arbitrary couplings or slightly perverse groupings that quietly and insistently demand a shift in our perception. Indeed they all were once, in the making process, exceedingly fragile; needing, before and during both bisque and high temperature reduction firing, to be propped up or supported upside down and fired on porcelain trays or setters; carefully, patiently, slowly, surely, crafted. But now, strong, dense, confident, beautiful – to be used, to be held. I hope you see these pots when the sun is out. They quicken with light, The pale objects are softly luminous and translucent, while the dark aubergines and blacks glow satiny rich, their rims reflecting.’ Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, 2005

Where expertise, invention and diverse references recede allowing forms to stand innocently.  Forms and spaces reflecting musical rhythms and even a quiet pause for breath. A deceptive simplicity.

A search for simplicity and quietness, an essential stillness, motivates my work. The making of functional pots, the exploration of objects to be held and used, alongside a search for new and innovative forms, provides a lifetime of challenge and excitement.  A beautiful cup seems simple and yet is capable of gently holding and reflecting so much ceremony and personal connection. The finished object stands innocently waiting to be used – as if oblivious to the complexities of its history, of making and firing processes. The translucency of porcelain, the light dancing on the sprung tension of a rim, the softly melting body inviting touch, even the frustration of failure – all this and more continues to invite me. The procedures and intelligence of making have held my attention very strongly for so many years, since that first day when I touched clay. I was instantly diverted from my other interests of science and music – suddenly engulfed in a world of making.  At that moment I knew nothing of this new world and yet it was as if I had no choice but to follow this path. I carried with me the thinking and learning of my former lives and this continuously feeds and nurtures all that I do.  Like in listening to a piece of musical harmony, I delight in the relationships that spring and develop between objects as they stand together. From the shadows that form between them to the implied movements across spaces, as if they dance. Much of my work encompasses an exploration of technical invention with origins in both studio and industrial spheres. Experimentation has previously resulted in objects fired fully glazed inside each other, suspended in the kiln and freely able to move when completed. Handles are now fired suspended, to be joined to their mother vessel later. These are high risk practices but lead to objects that have a sense of impossibility about them and enable the making of forms without the encumbrances of limitations defining them even while they are still an idea. The more recent addition of silver components has facilitated both a strengthening of the joints between separately fired sections and the search to marry new textures, forms and surfaces. The facing of a new material and new techniques has also enlivened my sense of understanding of the porcelain material I already thought I knew so well. New objects now emerge, to challenge and enable new rhythms, different energies and spatial interactions.

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