Magazine article Ceramics Art & Perception

Ceramics from Finland: Galerie Besson London

Magazine article Ceramics Art & Perception

Ceramics from Finland: Galerie Besson London

Article excerpt

AN EXHIBITION CURATED BY NATIONALITY INVITES reflection on cultural identity. It directs us to consider its "otherness' as well as what is common to the group. While some cultural productions seem remarkably robust in the face of globalized media others assert exchange and internationalism. Is then the Finnish identity of the four artists the significant feature of this exhibition? There is a coolness and sense of control that is common to all. Forms are simple with minimal applied decoration. Colours are muted relying on a narrow palette of body, slip and oxides. One could argue, as does Emma Crichton-Miller in the catalogue, that the work is imbued with qualities of light and colour of the Finnish countryside, an expression of the sublime perhaps, but is this where the value of the work resides or merely incidental?

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Much of Scandinavia's ceramic history is quite brief and in Finland closely associated with the Arabia factory. The legacy of design, rather than craft, is then perhaps more of an issue than in other countries. Three of the four have worked in the studios of Arabia for many years producing both single works and designs for production. All the work, including the elegantly tall pots of Kristina Riska the only artist not to work at Arabia, have a sense of control one might expect from this background. But it is a signature of skilled handwork rather than mechanical precision. The trompe-l'oeil panels of Kirsi Kivivirta, for example, have the quality of a fastidiously rendered drawing; lines cut into soft slabs express both the quality of the clay and the gesture that created them. The built bowl and bucket forms of Kati Tuominen-Niittyla have clarity only possible when the artist is fully confident of their making ability. …

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