My new series of boxes merges the techniques of textiles and clay, decorative surface and form. Through a complex process that I have developed, I am able to duplicate woven fabric in porcelain. I am, in essence, weaving the slip, with a warp and a weft. The resulting boxes are microcosms built of fragile layers with screen-like optics.
By combining techniques used in ceramics and textiles I am creating vessels that push the envelope of traditional ceramics. The fabric texture of the porcelain, combined with the woven slip, tricks people into taking a second look. The boxes connect conceptually to the hidden potential of Pandora’s Box; the black box of an aircraft—influenced by my pilot father, who was shot down during World War II; and the Perspective Box by Dutch artist Samuel van Hoogstraten.
The box is a potent metaphor for women in ceramics. It is the perfect vessel for containing what we cannot control, and for putting a lid on strong emotions.
From Spring/Summer 2015 Ornamentum. Click here to subscribe.
Alexandra McCurdy is a ceramist/printmaker/ independent curator based in Nova Scotia whose work has been shown nationally and internationally.
The thixotropic, coloured porcelain slip is trailed, layer upon layer, in opposite directions, onto cheesecloth-covered plaster bats until enough thickness is built up to support itself. When sufficiently dry, each tile is carefully lifted off the cheesecloth, which has left a fabric impression, and holes are made at each corner. Each component is fired to 2,500°F, then wired together to form a closed box and embellished with coloured computer wire, metallic thread, raffia or textile symbols used by women over the centuries. (There is always a great deal of warpage during the firing, so I generally make about 20 components in order to get six with corners that will meet to make a box.) The accompanying wall pieces are made in a similar fashion, and the components are mounted onto a silk-screened larger tile. The silk-screened image on the larger tile is of a Xeroxed woven tile.
Black Box with Weaving, Alexandra McCurdy, 2014 (and accompanying wallpiece). Porcelain (wire and beads as connectors)
11 x 11 x 11 cm (box) 19 x 19 x 19 cm (wallpiece)
Photograph: Steve Farmer