Glazed and painted sculptures by Claire Partington that explore the past with the present.
“Narrative and the retelling and misinterpretation of stories is at the centre of my work. Initially, I concentrated on reimagining and retelling Folk and fairy stories with particularly strong imagery and adding a contemporary slant. Most recently, I have concentrated on imagined back stories for iconic images of historical figures and their social constraints, both historical and contemporary.
The aesthetic inspiration is drawn largely from European Applied Art and Design styles from the 1600’s onwards. Underpinning this is the long European tradition of appropriation and reinterpretation or misinterpretation of “exotic” styles that can be seen in National Collections across Europe. I like the idea of getting it slightly wrong and the bluffing and “cobbling together” of styles that has resulted in some fantastic historical objects.
I started making sprigged vessels inspired by the salt glazed “bartmann” figurative bottles, but with the look of tin glazed earthenware from the 1600’s. This evolved into the fully figurative vessels I’m making at present, starting with the bottle shaped wide court mantua dresses of the 1700’s. The figures have head “stoppers” to reflect the origin from the figurative bottle and sometimes an additional head stopper to illustrate the metamorphosis of a character.
My work has a very familiar feel to it due to the historical and literary references, even though it has it’s own very definite aesthetic. The pieces are all meticulously hand built, using traditional ceramic techniques. The are coil built, then the shape is refined before adding surface decorations of sprigged (press molded) ephemera and modern computer generated enamel decoration over the glaze.” – Claire Partington