Quite by accident I found two programmes about potter, Edmund de Waal, on iplayer. Imagine here and What do artists do all day (which I can’t find on iplayer anymore!). I really enjoyed both but one conversation with Alan Yentob got me thinking ….
Talking about Atemwende, work for his latest show at the Gagosian, New York, he says of the work ‘it is about speechlessness, about silence, about the fragmentary’ – he compares the work to poetry and music. Walking in front of ‘I heard it said (for Berg)’, a series of 12 vitrines each containing five pots, he references their musical connection to serialist composer Alban Berg (Berg wrote music that ordered all 12 notes of the chromatic scale in a row so that no one note was played more than another). With Berg playing in the background de Waal says ‘when I walk along it I hear it, it’s musical’ – the pots have become notes within a musical score, they denote melody and silence.
Edmund de Waal, I heard it said (for Berg)
I find musical connections to visual work very interesting and the repetition and gradual change that takes place in this piece is pertinent to what I am doing at the moment.
This work (for an exhibition next March) is a reflection of the processes of change that occur on the salt-marsh coast in Norfolk. I am interested in the minute, almost unseen, changes that take place over time in the environment. They are changes that are not visible unless you really look for them – you need to pay attention. To the eye, the changes are so slow moving that they appear to be static – virtually unmoving and unless you knew what went before no change could be discerned. They need constant vigilance to be able to notice them.
Edmund de Waal references Berg in his work and I reference a minimalist composer in mine. Steve Reich writes music that unfolds slowly and that is made up of repetitive phrases that change imperceptibly as the music moves forwards through time – you have to stick with this music to hear the change!
I have been making series of repeated objects that reflect the environment through their use of materials (cloth, wax, varnish, salt – the usual!), and reflect change either through the process used (evaporating salt solution) or by repeating the object and allowing the changes that occur through the hand-working process to show that change. Like Reichs (and de Waal) the works are made from simple, repeated components that barely move but that show a fragmentary change over time.
Change pieces (as yet untitled and all works in progress)
I’m working furiously at the moment to try and get it all done in time!!