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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Confluence Ceramics><Glass

Livingstone, Andrew (2023) Confluence Ceramics><Glass. Confluence Ceramics >< Glass, 25 March 2023 - 10 September 2023, National Glass Centre.

Item Type: Show/Exhibition


Personal Statement

This artist residency and culminating exhibition of works provides a valuable opportunity to develop new work and extend my practice. It is not only an opportunity to experiment with a new medium but also explore ways of working within my own artistic practice. My work historically has to a large extent been politically motivated extended by a critical narrative consisting mostly of installation works, film and digital media and ephemeral conceptual approaches that have been gallery based. This residency affords me the opportunity to explore alternative platforms for creativity based upon objects and editions whilst exploring a material that is new to me.

The work for this exhibition emerges from a recent painting that depicts a self-portrait and is based on a personal narrative that explores queer identity, its construction and reading. The clay artwork in this exhibition demonstrates a return to fired ceramic within my work with a particular focus on layered glaze surface, text, and graphic imagery. This exploration is an extension of current studio practice based on painting and drawing which is transposed to the ceramic surface and extended through the medium of glass.

Previous artwork has contained glass elements but only as vitrine, therefore, this residency and exhibition has introduced a new medium ‘glass’ to my creative lexicon and extends the political and conceptual discourse historically contained within my practice. A personal interest in wearable art/jewellery provides a new experimental space through which various approaches, processes, and techniques are explored.

This work purposefully utilises the properties of glass and exposes the metaphorical and conceptual meaning afforded by this medium.

Background to project

Confluence developed from initial conversations between Andrew Livingstone (artist and Professor of Ceramics at the University of Sunderland) and Julia Stephenson (Head of Arts National Glass Centre) around the relationship between ceramics and glass and proffered the question; how might an artist who works predominately with clay/ceramic explore the medium of glass? There are some commonalties between the materials, processes, and studio equipment, however there are also vast differences which exude their own languages within the creative processes of both mediums. The work in this exhibition exposes the commonalities and differences but more importantly presents a confluence, a point at which the two materials meet. This is contextualised through the presentation of ceramic work by each of the artists which is selected from their respective practice.

Three artists Bouke de Vries, Andrea Walsh and Andrew Livingstone were invited to the Glass and Ceramics department, housed within the National Glass Centre, to experience the expertise and possibilities for glass that are afforded by the team and specialised equipment available within this world class facility. Following this visit the artists developed proposals to extend their creative practice into glass, the outcomes of which can be seen in this current exhibition.

The work you encounter here is supported by experts from the academic and technical team based at the National Glass Centre University of Sunderland who have worked with the artists on the development of ideas and realisation of the artworks through design and manufacture. This work was realised as part of a ten day residency executed over the last four months where each of the three artists worked closely with the glass team.

Andrew Livingstone – artwork cluster interpretation

Future archaeology, how will they tell? Acrylic and photo image on canvas 2022
Emoji Fruit, Glass 2023 (Hot glass James Maskrey and Jason McAnuff)

This exhibition emerges from a recent painting Future archaeology, how will they tell? The self-portrait questions a future queer reading based upon forensic archaeology and the construction of historical identity. The painting refers to contemporary culture and platforms for communication through the employment of stylised icons, in this case the fruit (derogatory term) in the painting which is rendered as emoji (sexting icons). This element is developed further within the work Emoji Fruit, where a simulacrum has been created in glass. Within the artwork the plasticised aesthetic of digital emojis has been purposefully captured in hot glass and aims to enhance the fetishised objects.

3 Robert St, Glass 2023 (Digital design Colin Rennie, waterjet cut Joanne Mitchell, construction Tom Jordan)
Love Punch, Glass 2023 (Digital design Colin Rennie, waterjet cut Joanne Mitchell, kiln casting Catherine Forsyth, hot glass James Maskrey, construction Tom Jordan)

Those or events who have helped shape my world and contributed to my identity feature in this body of work framed by a geopolitical presentation of queer derived from what3words. When considering a narrative frame for this exhibition my year of birth 1967 becomes significant as the sexual offences act of 1967 introduced the part decriminalisation of homosexuality, which was the first gay law reform since 1533. The work seen in the exhibition aims to reveal the hidden/forgotten, question narratives around the public/private and explore ceramic and glass as queer politically charged materials.

The following is an excerpt that provides a history of 3 Robert Street.

“By 1964, number 3 Robert Street belonged to the National Coal Board and living there was Allan Horsfall and his partner Harold Pollard. Horsfall worked in the Estates Department of the Coal Board, however his real passion was politics and in particular, homosexual law reform. In 1958 he became associated with the Homosexual Law Reform Society and some years later in 1964 he became one of the founding members (along with Collin Harvey) of the North Western Homosexual Law Reform Committee (NWHLRC). What is key about the founding of the NWHLRC is that Horsfall publicly published his home address on Robert Street along with information about the committee. This was an extremely brave move both politically and socially, as homosexuality was still illegal at the time”
Thomas McGrath 02/05/2016
Within this work I am interested in exploring and making explicit the significance of the transition of a safe space (home) to a public facing political one. A scaled replica of 3 Robert Street is rendered in glass and utilises its inherent properties as a vulnerable material and in addition reference to metaphor and glass houses is purposefully acknowledged.

The work Love Punch consists of glass knuckle dusters emblazoned with the letters NWHLRC. These sculptural/wearable objects reference the committee developed by Allan Horsfall and include the letters of the organisation as love-hearts. Whilst this work is purposefully political it also introduces an element of humour encapsulated by the material glass and the use of sweet candy as a textual reference. The objects hold violent connotation yet are presented as physically non-violent in terms of their intended function and queered aesthetic. The potential metaphorical punch is however crucial to the conceptual underpinning of the work.

Lovers of Modena, Ceramic and decals 2023
Thank You Allan, Ceramic, decals and gold lustre 2023
Mother and Child, Ceramic and decals 2023
Forensic Teeth, Ceramic and decals 2023
Skull, Ceramic and decal 2023
Jaw, Ceramic and decal 2023
Jaw, Porcelain/stoneware and decal 2023
Foetus, Porcelain/stoneware and decal 2023

The ceramic work within this exhibition intertwines with the narratives that flow through the painting and glass artworks. The clay surface becomes important in the development of these works and emerges as a natural progression from painting and drawing undertaken in the studio over recent years. Painterly qualities are expressed through layered clay slips and glaze which are then overlayed with graphic imagery in the form of decals. These images provide points of reference from birth to death within the narrative framework of the artworks. If we acknowledge that ceramic constitutes an integral part of constructed histories and knowledge through archaeological excavation, then this observation provides a foundation for the construction of identity.

Image (JPEG) (Artwork, 3 Robert Street, Installation glass)
3 Robert St 1.jpg - Other

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Image (JPEG) (Artwork, Future Archaeology; How will they tell! Painting, Emoji Fruit (sexting) blown glass)
DSCF8362.jpg - Other

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Image (JPEG) (Artwork, ceramic, Lovers of Modena, Mother and Child)
DSCF8351.jpg - Other

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Image (JPEG) (Artwork, ceramic, Forensic Teeth)
DSCF8357.jpg - Other

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Image (JPEG) (Artwork, ceramic, Thank You Allan)
DSCF8371.jpg - Other

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Image (JPEG) (Exhibition View)
DSCF8373.jpg - Other

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Image (JPEG) (Artwork, glass, Love Punch)
DSCF8388.jpg - Other

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Image (JPEG) (Artwork, digital render, 3 Robert Street)
A3.jpg - Other

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Image (JPEG) (Confluence, poster)
IMG_1344.jpg - Supplemental Material

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