CLAY: holding / transforming / performing in text, with a sculpture of thin metal intertwined behind it
Friday 14 July 2023 to Saturday 26 August 2023
National Sculpture Factory

CLAY holding/transforming/performing is a season of clay at the National Sculpture Factory. It celebrates clay as a fundamental and complex material. A key tenet of this clay season is to be witness to experts in moments of live practice, to look into the complexity of clay production and material negotiation. This season of clay presents the breadth of material practice from the skills of traditional practices to the urgency of this material vital to expressive and sculptural live practices. The programme of live practice and keynote live conversations will present deep insights into the production and elemental demands of this ancient and current material.

This Festival is curated by artist Clare Twomey (UK), artist Nuala O’Donovan (Ire) and NSF curator Dobz O’Brien.

UK Elements Include

Aaron Angell

Born in Kent in 1987, Aaron Angell currently lives and works in London. His work is concerned with hobbyist cultures, non-canonical history, and marginal methods of image making. Aaron is also the founder of Troy Town Art Pottery, a radical and psychedelic ceramic workshop for artists in London. Recent solo and group exhibitions include, Rob Tufnell, Cologne; Hauser & Wirth, Somerset (2018); Goma, Glasgow; Tate St Ives, Cornwall (2017); Glasgow International, Glasgow (2016); and Studio Voltaire (2015).

Susan O’Byrne

Susan O’Byrne is an Irish born artist specialising in the making of allegorical animal forms. Her work is known for its innovative use of paper-clay and its highly intricate printed and collaged porcelain surfaces. A graduate of Edinburgh Collage of Art, Scotland, Susan’s work has won several awards, is housed in a number of public collections and is regularly exhibited internationally.

Susan has been a co-director of Glasgow Ceramics Studio, Scotland since 2008. She continues to make work from there and also from her studio in Cork, Ireland.

Florence Peake

Florence Peake is a London-based artist making solo and group performance works intertwined with an extensive visual art practice since 1995. Peake’s practice uses movement, text, film, drawing, painting and sculpture that respond  and intercept each other to articulate, extend and push ideas through diverse media. By encouraging chaotic relationships between the body and material, she creates radical and outlandish performances, creating temporary alliances and micro-communities within the audience.

William Cobbing

Clay is a central material in William Cobbing’s work, both in its raw and fired forms, which he explores through sculpture and performance. In his videos people are covered in craggy clay masks, often joining each other together, repetitively manipulating the amorphous surface with deadpan detachment. Boundaries between the protagonists are blurred, raising the question as to whether we shape the environment around us or if it shapes us. With the figures partly buried under clay there’s a shift from visual to tactile communication, leading to contradictory feelings of sensuousness and suffocation.

There’s a reciprocation between the videos and glazed ceramics, with mask and hand shapes often emerging from formless ceramic mounds, as if the sculptures are caught in a state of becoming. Ceramic tiles are created as bases for text to be scored into their surface, covers of books referenced, and bas-reliefs of scenes of the clay covered figures, captured like video stills.