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Beyond The Vessel
Myths, Legends, and Fables in Contemporary Ceramics around Europe
13 September - 22 December 2019

Catherine Milner, Károly Aliotti

Sam Bakewell, Bertozzi & Casoni, Vivian van Blerk, Christie Brown, Phoebe Cummings, Bouke de Vries, Malene Hartmann Rasmussen, Klara Kristalova, Elsa Sahal, Kim Simonsson, Carolein Smit, Jørgen Haugen Sørensen, Hugo Wilson

Ceramics has always been a vehicle for conveying shared human stories. The earliest specimens reveal how as object and material it has borne a multitude of meanings from the utterly functional to the highly symbolic. The recent revival of the use of clay as a means of creating abstract sculpture, wherein the narrative element is made subordinate to the expression of raw emotion, reveals how this material and genre has once again become one of the most captivating within contemporary arts.

Beyond the Vessel: Myths, Legends, and Fables in Contemporary Ceramics around Europe demonstrates how ancient myths from various cultures have echoed down generations and inspired an exciting new wave of contemporary art. The exhibition showcases clay, a material often used simply to manufacture vessels and other utilitarian objects, manifesting its prolific and versatile rhetoric in the hands of artists with exceptional skill and vision, expressing human emotion in the greatest degree of subtlety. While some artists in the exhibition do not kiln-dry clay, others use found shards of ceramic to develop their works. The different techniques employed for the artworks result in a myriad of genres, ranging from hyperrealism to abstraction

The works in the exhibition spring from a universe of nightmares and dreams, the monstrous and the beautiful; the past and the present, captured in the same instant. The territories inhabited range from the lush and dark forests of Northern Europe, to skies brushed by “the rosy-fingered dawn” in Homer’s words. Beyond the Vessel is full of storytellers; the narratives varying between the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and H.C. Andersen to the stories about Zeus the cloud-gatherer and the serpent-haired Medusa. The exhibition explores human affairs, past and present, molded by that primordial human material, clay. There is no doubt that the complex, polychrome works represented here point to a larger, vibrant, and growing international scene, much of it committed to delivering a poetics and commentary on the 21st century.

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Sam Bakewell
The Reader, 2011–2019

Ceramic, 23 pieces

Detail from installation

Bertozzi & Casoni 
Primavera (Spring), 2019

Polychrome ceramic

67 x 63.5 x 48 cm

Christie Brown
Red Careto Portrait, 2019


48 x 33 x 24 cm

Phoebe Cummings
Ornamental Chronolgy, 2019

Clay, wire and rope

Variable dimensions

Installation view 

Klara Kristalova
Sparrow, 2019

Glazed stoneware

83 x 40 x 45 cm

Malene Hartmann Rasmussen

In the Dead of the Night, 2015 


Elsa Sahal
Léda Louisiane, 2014

Glazed ceramic

60 x 45 x 28 cm

Kim Simonsson
Moss Boy with Fur Hat and Stylish Jacket, 2018

Ceramic, nylon fiber, yarn, ready-made material

Carolein Smit
Lamb of God, 2017


28 x 20 x 30 cm 

Jørgen Haugen Sorensen

That’s Why They Call Them Dogs (Dog Sitting), 2008

Burnt clay, red earth, and wax

30 x 70 x 55 cm

Bouke Devries
The Last Supper, 2019

18th, 19th, 20th and 21st century

porcelain, gold plated brass and

mixed media

Dimensions variable

Installation view

Hugo Wilson
Labour 10’ (The Cattle of Geryon), 2014

Terracotta, waxed steel

40 x 40 x 40 cm 

Publication Publication
Beyond the Vessel
Myths, Legends, and Fables in Contemporary Ceramics around Europe
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