Tableware as Sculpture and Poetry: Ozioma Onuzulike's Ceramics

By Obodo, Eva; Onuora, Chijioke et al. | Ceramics Art & Perception, January 2018 | Go to article overview

Tableware as Sculpture and Poetry: Ozioma Onuzulike's Ceramics


Obodo, Eva, Onuora, Chijioke, Odoh, George, Ceramics Art & Perception


For over a decade and a half, Ozioma Onuzulike has created tableware that has a way of addressing the viewer not only as sculpture but also as visual poetry. Yet, while he exhibits impressive technical skill, his works allude to chance and tend to occupy, as metaphor, a fertile conceptual territory. (1) At first glance, they appear simple and seem to contradict the basic function they are made for, which is to serve at meals. However, on a second look, they confront us with the utilitarian dimension that we are used to and consequently invite us to appreciate the forms and textures in relation to their function. Depending on his creative temperament, Onuzulike makes his work figurative or abstract, natural or artificial--either to create easily recognisable forms that perform a known role, or non-representational forms that play on our assumptions regarding their purpose.

Trained at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he now teaches ceramics, Onuzulike has imbibed the exploratory approach to art practice that has characterised the Nsukka Art School since the 1960s. At Nsukka he takes the time for self-examination and gently struggles to stretch his practice "beyond its immediate constraints through creative innovation and studio experiments". (2) In fact, it is the zeal for innovation that propels his creative adventures in pottery where he has always strived to do things differently. This has marked him out from the conservative traditional and contemporary pottery practices that pervade many regions of the world, particularly Africa. Looking at the stylistic features of Mende pottery historically, Barbara E. Frank observes a basic conservatism in the forms of vessels produced between now and a century ago. (3) It is in an attempt to achieve something new that Onuzulike appropriates unconventional media and approaches to pottery production. He has explored the intricate relationship between clay and a variety of different natural and artificial materials to produce mixed-media sculptures. This article is an examination of his tablewares in terms of their artistic and conceptual qualities, especially the ways by which they transcend their utilitarian function and yield metaphorical allusions.

Onuzulike has often combined multiple methods in producing his tableware. In spite of their many formal differences, a number of them express a sense of passage through the sculpture processes of modelling, casting and carving, which make them appear quite poetical. He has also employed different tools (many of which are improvised) in producing each of his wares. While discussing a selection of his teapots and cups as installations, he made an insightful description of the techniques and procedures involved in their formation. According to him:

Cylindrical shapes were produced using the potter's wheel and variously carved using a little 'gouge' (locally fabricated by bending metallic hairpins and foisting their ends into empty barrels of pen or markers). At the early stages of hardening (before the leather-hard stage), the thrown forms were altered or distorted to take new shapes ... carving geometric and organic forms into the vessels was carried out during the early leather-hard stage when the 'gouge' could move in and out of the clay without sticking onto them. (4)

The meanings that many of Onuzulike's tableware incorporate are characterised by the sinuous designs he engraves onto their surfaces, as well as the play of flickering hues of glaze that he ostentatiously layers and juxtaposes with one another, inside and outside of the vessels, in a manner that portrays the wares as an intersection of ceramics, sculpture and painting. The artist actualises this in a modest exploration of texture, colour and pattern to achieve an independent visual language that could become his signature style. In fact, many of his ceramics share a formal and textural trait that characterises them in visual terms, which make their identity unquestionable. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Tableware as Sculpture and Poetry: Ozioma Onuzulike's Ceramics
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.