Phil Elson: Along the horizon from Barcelona to the Basque
2 April – 8 May
It's quite overwhelming seeing a large collection of Phil Elson's work. There is a lot of work in this show.
Statuesque pillars stands amongst reservoirs of bowls reflecting on the landscape and architecture of Spain. The forms are subtle but monolithic and the combination of the unglazed white of Southern Ice clay with Phil's repertoire of nepheline glazes is striking.
There are beautifully intimate moments where curves and swooning ellipses bring into focus play between object and negative space.
Pieces in the exhibition are altered not only by the makers hands but also in firing, often relaxing to oval, celebrating the malleability of porcelain at high temperatures. This is further highlighted by the highly reflective nature of the glazes.
The installation piece below was interesting. When I first laid eyes on it I was really bothered by the tall, leaning vase-shaped form. It was so contrary to the other refined and resolved forms. But then with reflection I surmised this was it's beauty. It had a jarring effect that not only engendered a greater appreciation of the surrounding pieces but made me slightly fond of it for it's quirks and eccentricity - like a new building initially labelled an eyesore that with time becomes iconic. I'm not sure that this was the artists intent but it's where it took me!
There was so much to see. Perhaps a little too much to see. The work was arranged on plinths that from certain angles created a staggered landscape that was certainly effective but with bold graphic paintings and glass cabinets filled with other ceramics intercepting the view something was lost. How wonderful it would be to experience this collection of work in a room twice the size with bare walls and space to appreciate the scale of the works.
Then there are simply the bowls.
Phil Elson does such a good bowl.
The last word should go to them.