Artists In Conversation

Material Presence:


Poetic Turn



critical positions




Fragmented Figure

To explore the metaphoric potential of the work I wove points of reflection, pauses in proceedings where I could repeat salient words/phrases, and read passeges of poetry/prose prior selected to illustrate points. The audience were further encouraged to draw and write in response to this in small sketchbooks which they scanned and emailed to me after the event.  

Meaning can be teased from an artwork simply by shifting the frame from which view it.Taking each of the core positions commonly used in art analysis: Semantics / Formalist / Phenomenological / historical / psychoanalytical we draw out the narrative potential of Claire Curneen's exhibition 'Passages' her first Wales based solo exhibition.

The title was not simply a convenience in grouping artists from different places, but embodied the potential of ceramics to reflect and interpret aspects of our environment, society and culture. Taking each artist in turn we set out the diversity of ways in which ceramics achieves this from geology, geography, historical lineage, material values and souvenir.

There is a close association between skin and the expression of thought, When blushing, wailing, or sweating

we can be, albeit momentarily, taken over by its conveyance of emotion before we are consciously aware of

our own feelings, what Conor describes describes as 'thinking through the skin'

The fragmented Figure

Interpreting Ceramics Issue 8

Fragmented Figure: Natasha Mayo

Fragmented Figure: Natasha Mayo

In this extract, Mayo describes her consideration of skin as being innately fragmented. She continues to describe the ways in which she has articulated these ideas in ceramic, in particular, the relationship between two and three dimensions and how illusion of depth rendered onto a figurative form impacts upon our experience of flesh and skin. I think the notion of fragmentation is a concern for me as a practitioner in two different ways. Firstly, my consideration of skin is not as a wholly encompassing, impermeable layer of the body but rather a membrane through which we emit and are exposed to the environment and absorb. Its fragmented in the sense that the surface of our body is a relationship between the inside and the outside rather than one whole separated thing against another, its more of a dialectic between those two things. And I think that is a significant part of fragmentation, this negotiation between whole and part, its not often black and white but a dialogue, a relationship between those two things. The second element is perception, the means by which we perceive certain qualities. My interest lies in the expression of flesh and skin, in order to evoke the very particular qualities of flesh, I need to exaggerate them, amplify them on the body in such a way that the succession of stages by which we might ordinarily experience the body flushing, the body stretching, shivering is frozen, so its focussing on that particular sensation and no other. So there is a fragmentation in the process by which we experience these works
In Conversation Between Dawn Youll, Lowri Davies and Natasha Mayo about the Exhibition 'Placement' 2011

In Conversation Between Dawn Youll, Lowri Davies and Natasha Mayo about the Exhibition 'Placement' 2011

PLACEMENT at Oriel Davies Gallery - Fife Contemporary Arts, Scotland 2011 Stephen Bird, Claire Curneen, Lowri Davies, Ken Eastman, Nick Evans, Laura Ford, Anne Gibbs, David Shrigely, Cecile Johnson Soliz, Conor Wilson & Dawn Youll. Featuring contemporary ceramic objects by artists with connections to Wales and Scotland, this original and compelling exhibition explores the narrative possibilities of ceramics through material, form, history, image and context. From the outset this ambitious collaborative project, devised by Oriel Davies Gallery and Fife Contemporary Art & Craft (FCA&C), focused on producing a combined visual art and craft project. Links between Scotland and Wales were a useful departure point and the strength and diversity of ceramic practice suggested the way forward. An innovative ceramic artist based in each country was invited to bring their expertise and passion to the project. Having never met each other previously, ceramicists, Lowri Davies, (Wales) and Dawn Youll, (Scotland), responded enthusiastically to the invitation and embarked on co-curating the exhibition. The notion of place and placement conceived collectively by Davies and Youll, highlights important associations in the field of ceramics concerning location, geography, ritual, commemoration and the souvenir. Each artist-curator was drawn immediately to the work of Laura Ford who uses the ceramic ornament as a means to connect with audiences. This language exploring common themes in Ford’s sculptural practice led Davies and Youll to push borders between artistic practices and to research artists who use and reference clay in a multitude of ways. Works range from Nick Evans’ extraordinary, potent and sculptural totems, marking the idea of ritual and fundamental roots of human existence to the earthy, uprooted terracotta trees by Claire Curneen, hung in stasis and precariously offering the potential for growth through golden roots and branches. Tracing the journey of life is played out and presented through many works, objects which offer stories and connections about our past and present, our environment or even the constructed landscape, assembled and formed in the mind. This exhibition offers an exciting and alternative perspective to ceramics, inviting both artists and audiences to reconsider and reposition their understanding, engagement and relationship with ceramics. A full colour publication accompanies this exhibition and includes an interview between Dr Natasha Mayo, artist and lecturer, Cardiff School of Art& Design and the co-curators. Further information and press images: contact Alex Boyd Jones , Curator on 01686 625041, or email: