After the British Museum and Contemporary Ceramics Centre, I travelled down to South East London to visit a small gallery near Peckham Rye station called The Sunday Painter. Upstairs was a large white room filled with discrete ceramic pieces by Gillian Lowndes. What a difference it makes seeing the real thing compared to photographs; the texture, glazes, materials, size just can’t be imagined, no matter how good the photography is. It was such a delight to have the room to myself (mostly) and time to really look at the objects and marvel at her playful ingenuity and startling originality.
Bull dog clips, crawling glaze, fibreglass and mad wire hair day.
This is lovely. I thought for a while that she had used very fine wire, then realised it was horsehair added after firing. Found metal, glaze, Egyptian paste, porcelain and horsehair.
These two ‘bag of bricks’ are fascinating; the texture she has achieved with the fibreglass tissue resembles old leather. Bits of wire are twisted in amongst Egyptian paste and an old brick pokes out of the delicate structure. The blue Dunlopillo plinth on the right looks brilliant but gave off toxic fumes in the kiln so she stopped using that, I can see why she was attracted to using it though.
Whiskery chins and knarly arthritic joints, a mad moment with wire hooked up with a simple, no-nonsense twist. So simple but complex in the textures achieved.
One of the Cobras combining so many techniques and materials. I particularly like the coiled wire wound around the painted Egyptian paste and porcelain, with the lump of brick or rock stuck on the side.
This was one of the largest pieces in the show, how inventive to see a wire brush and cannibalise it to create a frizzy fringe. It reminds me that just because something comes out of a kiln, it doesn’t have to end there, much more can be done to it, added on, glued and altered. She came under a lot of fire for using glue, yet now it’s not even mentioned.
This whisk is genius. Such delicate sensitivity in handling of material and form. So much more appreciation of her skill when you see the actual piece.
One of the joins in the hooked loofah work. The surface glaze on the sponge is lovely, the frizzle of wire in the spaces, and the mysterious hook structures that curl out with the mesh and pyrometric cone claws. These are so much more impressive in real life.
This piece is a reminder to use archival materials – she put an elastic band to hold the fork to the ‘handle’ which has now degraded. I imagine that her friends and family would hide anything nice from her when she was visiting in case she spotted something useful! The tuft on the tine of the fork is a few strands of horsehair again attached after the event. Such a seemingly insignificant part but it really makes the piece stand out.
It was such a thrill to see all this work and more in one place, and be reminded yet again why I swapped to ceramics from textiles. I’ve still got a long way to go, but exhibitions like this are truly inspiring and aspirational.
The Sunday Painter. [Online] Available from: http://www.thesundaypainter.co.uk/ [Accessed 8 December 2016].
Photos: Brown, A. (2016).