The show features 23 international artists pushing the boundaries of ceramics. The artworks explore a range of themes including domestic life, the body and social justice. Delicate hanging objects, fantastical creatures and room-wide installations form this display, which presents ceramics in a whole new light. Curator Cliff Lauson said the aim of the exhibition is to “turn the old image of clay on its head and make it really exciting”, and that “The idea of clay as a serious art form has been bubbling at the forefront of contemporary practice for a while, alongside a wider consideration of craft”.
Downstairs, various large-scale artworks stand out against the Hayward’s Brutalist architecture. In one space Lindsey Mendick’s Till Death Do Us Part sees a recreation of a home overrun by warring creatures. Mice with AK47s, hiding behind sandbags and even peeking out of a Trojan cat. The work explores the domestic as a battleground, reflecting the everyday conflicts that pervade our personal spaces.
Upstairs, David Zink Yi’s giant squid Untitled (Architeuthis) is particularly eye-catching. Spanning almost 5m on the floor surrounded by a thick puddle of ink, the sculpture is so lifelike it requires a close look to determine the material.
However, the exhibition’s highlight is just around the corner, where Klara Kristolova’s Far From Here engulfs the room. The scent of the work hits you before you even see it – earthy vegetation, like walking through a forest after rain. The work features 18 stoneware figures surrounded by a landscape of moss, dry leaves and branches. In this work, Kristolova explores transformation and myth. This is evident in the figures – part human, part animal – seemingly taken straight out of a fairytale.
Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art showcases the possibilities of clay. Here, we see artists innovatively explore a medium that can be tactile, messy, funny, exquisite and fragile – with extreme skill. This exhibition is eclectic, exciting and one not to be missed.
Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art is showing at Hayward Gallery until 8 Jan 2023, tickets are available here.
Image: Installation view of Klara Kristalova-Strange Clay Ceramics in Contemporary Art at the Hayward-Gallery.
Photo: Mark Blower, Courtesy the Hayward-Gallery.
Review by Amy Melling: Amy is a Curator and Creative Producer whose practice is centred around community-led arts projects. Her current research is focused on curatorial methods for exhibiting artworks outside. Amy has a keen interest in the arts and recently completed an MA in Curating and Collections at Chelsea College of Arts, UAL.
Read Amy’s latest review here Review: Barbara Chase-Riboud: Infinite Folds at Serpentine North Gallery, now on until 29 Jan 2023 –Abundant Art
Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art is the first large-scale group exhibition in the UK exploring how contemporary artists have used clay in unexpected ways.
Featuring 23 international artists working across recent decades, the exhibition examines the plasticity and the possibilities of ceramics.
The artworks on show encompass fantastical creatures and uncanny representations of the everyday, as well as ranging from small abstract works to large-scale installations that take the medium beyond the kiln.
Ahead of your visit, download Bloomberg Connects, the free arts and culture app, and explore the Hayward Gallery’s guide.
Available for download for free on the App Store or Google Play