Wider influences on my work

From spiritual to fantasy via augmented reality
Modern sculpture is starting to find disease interesting and Disease Carbonne N. (Dates various) Disease pills Available at: https://noumeda.com/disease-pills-sculpture-9500-empty-capsules) and Van Essen’s ceramic Heirloom series (Dates various) Available at:  https://www.saatchiart.com/tvanessen ) particularly fascinating.
Medical Heirlooms — Tamsin van Essen
Van essen. Heirloom series
pills sculpture | noumeda carbone | Flickr
N. Carbonne Disease Pills
Sound artists are also working on large scale installations including now working in hospitalisation, illness and disease. But few of these works allow the sense of touch to enter into the process. My influences include a mixture of installations where ceramic hands are the focus, ceramic artists introducing sound into ceramic works and the Addams Family Hand. I have also been studying Grayson J. (1975) Sculpture: a collection of essays by artists surveying the techniques, applications and future directions of sound sculpture. Available at: http://www.ubu.com/historical/sound_sculpture/sound_sculpture.pdf

Cueva de las Manos (c.7,300 BCE) in Rio Pinturas, Argentina The spiritual significance of hands in many different cultures is hugely influential to my work. The votive hand models made as offerings to Catholic saints and the cave dwelling hand images of Cueva de las Manos (c.7,300 BCE) in Rio Pinturas, Argentina have been an enormous influence. I provide an image of these roughly made silhouettes because I cannot underestimate their emotional significance. These images echo my experience of the Skelmersdale Pandemic Grotto both being profound acts of community at a time of intense anxiety.

World Museum Liverpool Stores Closer to home I had the privilege of visiting the World Museum stores outside Liverpool where I found hands from all around the world and all ages. The hands shown are hauntingly beautiful Ancient Egyptian children’s mummified hands. Children’s limbs are meant to be alive and moving, not dead, silent and preserved for immortality.

Thand Mtay Maung Maung was working as a baker to support his family when he began thinking about the outstretched hands of victims of a cyclone in his native Burma.  The artist in him saw a way to do something with the bread he made every day, culminating in this installation in Pittsburg. The power of repeated image of the hand was both attractive and powerful.

Ingrid Murphy I have been hugely influenced by Augmented Reality and the Language of Clay (7. Murphy. 2018)in which Murphy adds sound to ceramic sculptures to give greater depth of meaning and understanding. I was able to discuss the approach when I met Prof Murphy at the International Ceramics Biennial in Aberystwyth in 2019 where Murphy was exhibiting the Language of Clay and later that year in a Ceramics Symposium at her university Cardiff Metropolitan. Prof Murphy works closely with an electronics lecturer and gives little away about the actual methodology. Prof Murphy’s work explores our relationship with clay forms and introduces sound into the equation.  She plays on our expectations of what these forms are meant to do Grandma’s kitschy ornaments sing old fashioned tunes when touched and a group of percussive ceramic saxophones make sounds when tapped.  Murphy’s work is an inspiration but I have had to find other sources advice closer to home about introducing electronic sound elements. Prof Ingrid Murphy’s own research and practice deals with the synergies between traditional skills and new technologies which I aim to do in my own work.   In these non-touch times I am also interested in taking another leaf out of Murphy’s book and using QR codes for people viewing my work on a laptop or phone to actually listen to the sounds of CERAMIC Transmission. However, I believe that my work is slightly less playful than Prof Murphy’s, but by using these ideas I am finding a way to tell my own stories of disease.

Chiharu Shiota I visited the Shiota installation Me Somewhere Else in 2019 at the Royal Museum of Fine Art Brussels and was inspired by Shiota’s threads radiating from a central point to shoes on the ground.  I have been researching ways of interconnecting my ceramic hands from arranging them on the ground, hanging them from the ceiling or putting them on plinths, but none of these appeal as a practical or design solution. Having seen Shiota’s work I think that the idea of linking the hands from a central point by a set of long threads might be the solution if, and when, 100 Hands are exhibited in a gallery. I have posted photographs of my version of this in the Exhibition section of the blog.
Chiharu Shiota - "Me Somewhere Else" (2018)

Addams Family Hand A somewhat less likely influence is the Addams Family Hand of the 1960’s TV series.  This hand called Thing has a character of its own and had an important part to play.  An unlikely role model for some of my hands, but one I find very appealing nevertheless.

Author: Helen Birnbaum Ceramics

By exploring images and mythologies I explore different aspects of our modern lives, and sometimes the effect of history. I challenge our perception of the world by stimulating our imagination and providing new insights into modern life. I make stories in clay.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s