A Kind of Belonging, The Ceramics of Meri Wells
Ceramics: Art and Perception
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I contribute to the research within Fine Art & Ceramics through my studies of the history and theory of ceramics in Britain, and my editorship of the electronic journal "Interpreting Ceramics". This article focuses on the work of Meri Wells, a maker of figurative ceramics and discusses her work within the context of the place of its production. This place is a remote valley in North Wales and the sense or spirit of that place – its genius loci – is identified as a key aspect of the meaning of the work, both for the maker and viewer. The artworks are examined from the point of view of their status as 'figures'; an ambiguous status in that the artworks are neither human nor animal representations, but exist as hybrid forms which do not quite belong either to the human or natural worlds. The article asks questions of how such figures – the product of an isolated life – can find a place within a contemporary art context. Although they are difficult to categorise, and therefore to exhibit, the conclusion is reached that they can have relevance as 'mythic' figures, crossing the boundary between the natural world, the human world and the world of the imagination. The research value of this article lies in its documentation of contemporary ceramics figurative practice and in its demonstration of how an artist’s relationship to place can be assessed through the concepts of natural world, human world and imagination. In making this assessment the article drew on over eight years of ceramics archive material collected by the author, for example, exhibition catalogues, promotional material and artists’ personal letters. This material is now part of a larger Ceramics Archive held by the Wales Institute of Research in Art & Design.
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