I have been fascinated with the concept of veiling and revealing. One of the celebrated characteristics of thin porcelain is its ability to permit light through. Light often symbolizes the optimistic aspects of hope in the future. The translucent nature of the material also offers to obscure vision. Porcelain can be an agent to both hide and reveal these issues.
This body of work started last spring with an invitation to make and exhibit work as part of the Kingston HIV/AID Regional Services Annual Lantern Festival, which takes place in September in City Park in Kingston. The theme of the art exhibition was Resilience, which is a great inspirational topic for people dealing with HIV. The artwork had to be illuminated as lanterns: by candle, not electricity. I chose to focus on what eventually becomes the terminal issue for many HIV patients: infection from bacteria and viruses (some of the most resilient species on the planet). The process by which single-celled animals reproduce and ensure their place in eternity is termed mitosis. My work is a hopeful comment on the physical and mental resilience of patients in the face of these resilient bugs. Thin porcelain is inlaid with rice, which when burnt out in the kiln, gives the appearance of bacteria in a Petri dish under a microscope. Until the lantern is lit from inside, the bacteria effect is not really that noticeable (this is why I have left it unglazed). Once lit, the bacteria are revealed. The metalwork was done by Stefan Duerst.
As an extension of this work, this winter, I have taken the idea from these outdoor lawn lanterns (candle-lit) and convert them into indoor table lamps (electrical). These lamps project fairly bold light up to the ceiling, while sending diffused light with very soft slightly lighter dots to the surrounding walls. The soft wobbly organic rim and form contrast with the more hard linear nature of the base. I am making clay bases for some of the lamps and have collaborated with Randy Doner on metal lamp bases.
I also submitted the shade portion of the lamps to OKWA's exhibition this winter which is just finishing at the Kingston Public Library.
This project started as an artistic response to social and cultural concerns of the ravages of disease, and with an optimistic intent, it has translated into a handcrafted object for everyday use in the home.