s

News

  • Chrysalides
  • Post author
    yolande clark

Chrysalides

Chrysalides
*
Well, it's just hours away from my exhibit opening at the Buckland-Merrifield Gallery in Saint John.  In the past 24 hours, I have managed to blow up (in the kiln) three huge large magnificent pieces, which I can safely say were the best I've ever made, because of course, they're wrecked, and this development fulfills my long-standing requirement that I have an emotional breakdown just prior to any important event. Sigh.  But I really am getting over it, because if I step back and chill out, even I can admit that I've made some pretty sweet pieces.  Especially in the past few days, I have had moments of "why am I doing this?"--the house is a disaster, Lee is feeling justifiably hard-done-by, the kids can barely remember what it was like when they had a mother who was present.  There is lots more to say about the razor's edge that every mother has to walk between work and home, and caring and selfishness, and creation and domesticity.  But for now, I have to go and brush my hair, and drive to Saint John in my little half-dead car full of pottery. xo
*
Chrysalides
*
When I was a little girl, I was fascinated by caterpillars, butterflies and moths. I would capture them in jars and create elaborate homes for them with branches and leaves in the fish tank we had in the back yard.  Usually, they would tire of their glassy prison, and in the evenings after I had been called in for dinner, they would simply trudge up the wall, and over the edge, to freedom.  Once though, I awoke one glorious summer morning to find not a caterpillar, but a shiny cocoon, adhered to the underside of one of the branches. I watched it avidly over the proceeding days, and I was entranced to learn that inside the chrysalis was a soupy liminal liquid—unrecognizable as either caterpillar or butterfly—that held cells called “imaginal discs” containing the precise blueprint for the exquisite, ethereal and sometimes psychedelically chromatic flying creatures that would emerge.   Sadly I missed the final metamorphosis, discovering only the empty proteinaceous husk. There were so many butterflies then, in the 80s, in our urban garden.  Which one was mine? 
*
In grade eight, I was assigned along with the rest of my class, to read the novel “Chrysalids” by John Wyndham. Wyndham’s dystopian tale of totalitarianism brought up so many questions that I still wrestle with today, and interrogate in a rather oblique way through art-making.  These are questions about control, culture, tolerance, creation, environmental destruction and the impact that humans have on the world. Although I took my first clay class when I was three, it was in grade eight that I also started to hang out in my high school clay studio whenever possible, finding a resonance and sense of connection working with this ancient almost chthonian  substance. 
*
Over the course of my 9-year career as a professional potter, I have struggled, like every artist, to find my voice through my chosen media. When I started to combine the meditative, labour-intensive technique of coiling and throwing large forms, with instinctive, abstract, colourful swathes of surface decoration, it felt, somehow, like a sudden cracking open after lying dormant.  My pieces undergo a metamorphosis by fire, turning from mud to indelible glass in the kiln, and  I too, felt transformed as an artist; as though the years of plodding and frustration were part of a necessary dissolution which nonetheless concealed my imaginal discs; the potential for making something beautiful. 
*
The process of creating my porcelain and stoneware forms is slow, primal, and insect-like.  Each stage is layered with a snake of clay, glued with slip, squeezed and spun with my fingers, and then repeated. While I make, I imagine that I am building a sort of cocoon—mindful of the form before the form exists; ensuring the appropriate thickness; careful to maintain the integrity of the work, while pushing the boundaries of what the material will sustain; monitoring the level of dryness that will allow the structure to survive. I prefer to smooth the exterior, while retaining the interior seams and scoring patterns, and irregularities as evidence of the imperfections of what is a loose yet methodical, organic and ultimately very human practice. The glazing is undertaken with total abandon.  
*
My objective is to make sculptural objects that are immediately bombastic, energized and joyful, exploring the juxtaposition between the stillness of fired clay and a sense of motion, vivacity and spontaneity created by the colourful abstraction of glaze and metal leaf. I hope my vessels suggest both movement and placidity; butterfly and chrysalis.
  • Post author
    yolande clark

Comments on this post (0)

Leave a comment