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Academics from the Ceramics Research Centre exhibit at the Clayarch Gimhae Museum in South Korea

Art and Design 17 April 2018

Clare Twomey's cultural exchange work with Korea

The work of four researchers from the Ceramics Research Centre at the University of Westminster is currently on display at the Clayarch Gimhae Museum in South Korea until September, as part of a cultural exchange between the two countries.

To stimulate a cultural exchange between South Korea and the United Kingdom, a special exhibition introducing contemporary ceramic art from both countries was organised, with humanism as its theme. Coming from different historic and cultural backgrounds, the ten artists, who represent nine artmaking entities, are working in similar areas of interest (humans, society, environment, communication, community). Their works transmit a warning to people about the diverse social issues surrounding us and embody propositions for the recovery of our humanity. Their work, pictured above explored a cultural exchange of ideas and knowledge about how we celebrate cultural moments in our life such as birthdays, marriages, death and retirement.

The Ceramics Research Centre team at the University of Westminster, including Emeritus Professor Christie Brown, Tessa Peters, Eva Masterman, Researcher Phoebe Cummings and Reader Clare Twomey, were all invited to Gimhae in South Korea, where they attended the opening of the exhibition and participated in a Symposium. A book on the exhibition will also be published, to which Tessa Peters has contributed a substantial essay.

Having long explored human beings, Professor Christie Brown has focused on the relationship between human beings and animals, creating works that embody human beings’ inner sides as animal faces. Sculptures of the hybrid animals/humans gaze out expressionlessly as they occupy the space. Connoting physical or psychic wounds, her hybrid sculptures stir feelings of compassion for those who are socially vulnerable or marginalized.

Ambika's Dream’ (pictured below) is a work based on a spatial interpretation and personal experience of 'Ambika P3', an exhibition space at the University of Westminster. This space is supported by the 'Ambika Paul Foundation’, created in honour of the daughter of Lord Swraj Paul, Ambika, who died at an early age. Using Ambika’s beloved London Zoo as a backdrop, Christie Brown has staged a scene in which many figures of young children walk through the zoo. In ‘Ambika's Dream’, viewers are invited to join Ambika and the other children on a journey, experiencing eternity in the world they unfold.

Community ceramics project by Clare Twomey and Eva Masterman (pictured below), which involved 250 people from South Korea and the UK, is also on exhibit at the Clayarch Museum. Twomey's ‘Exchange’ is designed to induce positive social change and was first introduced at the Foundling Museum in London in 2013.

The piece consists of 1550 coffee cups which have been inscribed with ideas for various positive actions or good deeds. The actions range from things we can easily do in our daily lives—such as 'open your home during Christmas', 'send a thank you letter', 'write a letter to a friend or family member', and 'run a marathon for charity'—to things that require life-long commitment, such as 'adopt an orphan'. Twomey suggests that, by encouraging museum visitors to do one good deed by participating in the project, society and human beings can change for the better.

Installations by Researcher Phoebe Cummings, also on display at the Clayrach Museum, represent plants that do not exist on Earth, created in raw, unfired clay. Environmental destruction and degradation through reckless development, and the resulting loss of ecosystems, have reached severe levels and the work of Cummings stems from this concern.

To raise awareness of the issue, Cummings has collected various plant forms, creating delicate and profuse new species of vegetation, which represent the planetary ecosystem. The plants, which are composed only of clay, gradually transform and break down over time. The transformational process is captured through photography and video records. After a piece is dismantled, the clay is recycled in the production of subsequent works, whenever possible.

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