Monday, November 18, 2013

Ian Garrett's one-of-a-kind handmade ceramic pots and bowls; a living national treasure of the highest order.

All photographs by the blogger.
There is something incredible about objects that are handmade. Especially if they are masterly crafted to the degree where the work challenges our perceptions and notions of the handmade. The work exudes perfection of the highest order, to the point where it becomes otherworldly – almost inhuman. Authenticity takes on a different meaning when you admire these works.  
Mastering the craft of ceramics, weaving and or jewellery design and manufacture at this level is beyond imagination.  One stands in awe when confronted by these works. They work on all levels. The honed skill of the craftsperson has reached a level of maturity that makes every pot a masterpiece.

The bowl I bought.
Every work is finished to the same degree of perfection without compromise.  I stood in bewilderment at the degree of perfection that oozes out of the work of Ian Garrett. Even if you try to look for a mistake, you wont find one.  They say of excellent sports people, the cream of the crop, that on a very bad day, they  can still beat the best.

The same could be said of a master potter like Ian Garrett.  He has such a high level of expectation of himself that he would not for one moment exhibit any ceramic work that will question the craftsman’s judgment. The one-of-a-kind aesthetic is demonstrated in the forms, the shapes and the surface development. 
The work is in another league. For this critic and ceramic colleague the pattern-making and surface texture reaches a level of creativity and maturity that is indescribable.  It has evolved with the construction of each pot and firing experience for many years – from a career in the making to a living national treasure of the highest order.

Such craftspeople strive to push the creative envelope within very narrow boundaries of creative expression – margin for error is not part of their vocabulary. This is a conscious decision when it comes to all finely crafted and mastered artisans’ work.  The level of complexity in the design for manufacture all comes together from one exhibition to the next. Maintaining these skills and level of perfection is what separates and singles out craftspeople like Ian Garrett from the rest. One never gets bored of these finely crafted ceramic works. Every time you see a new batch of work it exceeds expectations. Unlike us, mere mortals, the work improves with age – the skin is more refined and the patterns even more complex and fresh and refined to a degree of complexity that leaves you breathless.

The bowl I bought for my collection. A beauty what!
The balance between the polished, burnished and textured surface patterns has become even more refined. This is achieved by the complex patternmaking applied by the artist. He twists the shapes and textures around the pot in serpentine like fashion. I first encountered this term when I saw the work of Antonia Canova, an Italian Mannerist sculptor (image on the left). You could only appreciate the true artistry of the sculptor when you viewed it from all sides (360 degrees) – the sculpted bodies’ coil in snake like fashion.

In his latest works Ian has perfected every aspect of his crafted pots – even the way the burnished surfaces reflect the gallery light. The reflections add another creative dimension to his work – the highly burnished surfaces reflect the space in which the work is exhibited. This is contained to the burnished shapes on the pot and contrasts sharply with the complex textured patterns, incised into the surface. The masterly crafted and textured incisions added a tactile quality to the finely crafted pots and bowls.
Ian exhibited his latest work at the Kim Sacks Gallery titled, The earth is watching us.
” Still, the dark red, orange, umber, or mineral landscape stretches before us like the foreshadowing of a vision. The burnished terracotta of the pots reflects the light. The texture of each vessel’s surface is equal to our own. For the earth is watching us….the hands that moulded it have left their Imprints.” Words by Nimrod Lian.   
He exhibited his work alongside the one-of-a-kind ceramics of Christina Bryer (image above) and vessels and bracelets woven in copper, silver and brass. These masterly crafted works are produced by craftspeople associated with Threads of Africa.

It is a great pity that such exhibitions are only given two weeks to generate interest and inspire the local art and craft community to attract the crowds. This was truly a not to be missed exhibition. All the work showcased master craftspeople at work at an international level.
All photographs by the blogger.

1 comment:

Gerd Kalesse said...

I only came across this article now.

Amongst other it states: "The work exudes perfection of the highest order, to the point where it becomes otherworldly – almost inhuman."

Almost inhuman - that is exactly my problem with it.

The work is truly wonderful and even amazing, but I miss the human element. This kind of "perfection" puts me off a little.

Luckily perfection is unattainable and is not necessarily an asset to strive for.

Hope Mr Garrett does well in Korea this year.