The Fantastic Tales: Danish Contemporary Ceramics in Brighton
TheFantastic Tales: Danish Contemporary Ceramics 2014 Artist Open Houses festival, The Ceramic House, Brighton May 3 – 25, 2014
Each May, as part of Artists Open Houses during the Brighton Festival, The Ceramic House opens to the public when its owner - architectural ceramicist J Kay Aplin, invites a selection of leading ceramic artists to display their work in the context of her own installations, thereby offering a unique overview of contemporary ceramic practice.
The Ceramic House itself is an extraordinary living artwork as J Kay Aplin has transformed it with her own glass and ceramics installation. It first opened in May 2011. In 2012 it was voted second best house through a public poll out of 250 Open Houses
One of the highlights of the 2014 Artist Open Houses festival this year will be an exhibition of Danish Contemporary Ceramics at The Ceramic House, featuring fifteen acclaimed ceramicists as well as a new installation from British architectural ceramicist J Kay Aplin.
The Danish Contemporary Ceramics show will be the first themed exhibition at The Ceramic House and will feature a cross-spectrum of art forms – sculpture, installation, tableware and wall pieces – creating a significant British exhibition of Danish Contemporary Ceramics.
The exhibition came about after J Kay Aplin undertook a residency at the International Ceramic Research Centre in Denmark in summer 2013.
Arterritory.com asked the initiator of this event, J Kay Aplin, to answer some questions on Danish ceramics and what is it that makes it so special.
Ceramics by Karen Harsbo
Could you shortly outline the development of contemporary Danish ceramics?
Contemporary Danish ceramics is flourishing like never before. The old borders between ‘fine art’ on the one hand and ‘applied art’ on the other hand have been undermined completely during the last two to three generations of ceramists. In Denmark, up till the mid 80’ies only a few pictorial artists expressed themselves through the ceramic material – and few ceramists (potters) went beyond the classical shapes and techniques when performing their (often very fine and delicate) items for more or less utilitarian purposes. But during the 80’ies, several Danish ceramists established specific art groups together with ‘soul mates’ from other countries (e.g. the group Multi Mud and especially the group Clay Today, both founded by Danes). In the same period we got the first Danish Studio Ceramics center, namely Tommerup Teglværk – now called Tommerup Keramiske Værksted / Tommerup Ceramics Studio Center. In the 90’ies the International Ceramics Research Center Guldagergård was also established, and the International Academy of Glass and Ceramics came up in Bornholm, our ‘Stoneware Island’.
Ceramics by Malene Hartmann Rasmussen. Photo: Sylvain Deleu
All of this gave lots of international contacts – and a lot of inspiration to the young Danish ceramists, among whom some were very inspired by American studio ceramists, while others sought their inspiration from the Far East or Central Europe. Today you cannot separate pictorial artists from ceramic artists – neither concerning the various types of expression, from figurative languages to non-figurative constructions, nor concerning prestige. By 1990 one seldom saw ceramics exhibited in Danish Art Museums. Today you see it just as frequently as you see art exhibitions with works made by any other kind of artistic material.
Ceramics by Charlotte Thorup
Could you describe the original and unique code of Danish ceramics?
Denmark is part of the Nordic area. Our unique code of design, in general, is known by the often very stringent styling and mode of expression combined with a subtle and softly moderate and restrained use of colour. Often both shapes and colours relate to nature / natural sciences.
(Today, in a reality which is more internationalized and more digitalized than ever, it is hard to say whether these characteristics are still somehow predominant to us.)
Ceramics by Heidi Hentze
Besides this festival, where else can one find Danish ceramics on the world scene?
Many of our most recommended Danish ceramists frequently exhibit abroad, e.g., at Sofa Art & Design Fairs (Chicago, USA), the annual Mindcraft event (Milan, Italy) and in galleries all over Europe (e.g. Keramikmuseum Westerwald in Germany and the Saatchi Gallery in London.).
Ceramics by Jane Holmberg
Ceramicists participating in the exhibition include Karen Harsbo, who recently exhibited at the acclaimed Topographies of the Obsolete at Spode Works, during the British Ceramics Biennial 2013; Pia Lund Hanson, named Artist Of the Year by the Copenhagen Art Association; and Royal College of Art graduate Malene Hartmann Rasmussen, whose beautiful surrealist work was shortlisted for the British Ceramics Biennial Award 2013, and which features the best in contemporary ceramics.