Sarah Halford

Architecture and Ceramics

jack of all trades

The past 12 months have been a balancing act between architectural design and ceramic design, with me trying to find how these two passions fit together in one head.

The exhibition of an exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery hit a nerve. The collage created for the 1956 exhibition This Is Tomorrow is instantly recognisable, it seems I’ve known that phrase ‘just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?’ forever.

The exhibit showed the hard work, determination and free thinking Cosby put into organising the show. This was truly groundbreaking; organising artists, architects, photographers and sculptors into teams and not really knowing what would come out of the collaborations, what did come out was some of the most influential thinking of 20th century British art.

The brief was to explore the human senses and habitation, and what grew organically from that thinking was a new way of working across the disciplines, to think differently and openly, and to create something totally new. The work shown in 1956 still looks fresh and shocking today.

I’ve been looking through the exhibition catalogue here and it’s blown my head to bits. I have been having some ideas about collaborating with other artists for a while now, which has come from some idea I have about the synthesis of ceramic and architectural design. Honestly I feel like I’m on the edge of creating something, some sort of experiment which will probably not have any physical presentable form but needs to come out somehow. I’ll be having drinks with a friend who is a writer tomorrow, and with a fellow architectural designer who has also been making sculpture in stone later in the week.

Also going round in the back of my head is the deserved attention James Whittaker has achieved with his exhibition After Redundancy: Living in and out of Architecture. James and some of the others featured in his series were in the year above me at Edinburgh Uni, and I just think it’s great that he has found so much dignity in the situation we have all found ourselves in. Of course there is the other side of this; did you really need to study for seven years to open up a cake stall? But sometimes, yes, you do need to roll with the punches, and obviously our design training has taught us resilience and ingenuity. If you can model a spiral staircase in jelly you can do anything!

The main feeling I have had when I look back this year is frustration. James has captured something with his photographs; something about that spark of creativity, tenacity and self-confidence that has meant that the people in his photographs have succeeded in other fields. They should be excelling in architecture.


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This entry was posted on January 2, 2011 by in architecture, pottery.
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