By Joanna Lee
On a sunny day in St Andrews you might take a walk on the beach, or visit Janetta’s for an ice-cream – or, you could do as many did on Saturday 2 October, and visit a sculpture symposium.
Marking the St Andrews Museum’s current and successful exhibition, Causing Chaos, speakers, artists and enthusiasts gathered to attend and participated in a sequence of presentations, discussions and workshops.
The day was kicked-off with a well-attended metal workshop by artist Roddy Mathieson. Put into pairs, participants each had the opportunity of making their own, small pewter-alloy sculptures. With a range of ideas and levels of artistry, each work came out differently, and highlighted the flexibility of the medium.
The workshop was quickly followed by the day’s first talk, given by acclaimed ceramicist Richard Slee. Keen to discuss his prestigious new show at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Slee took us on a whistle stop tour of his varied and interesting career. Starting with a passion for studio pottery or more specifically for exploring the properties of household pots and containers, Slee’s artworks seemed to become more self-consciously useless and … well, amusing! His current V&A show, From Utility to Futility would seem to be a must-see. A collection of works, each witty and ironic in their own way, Slee pioneers the notion that ‘pottery can just be itself’.
Refuelled with sandwiches and tea, the audience returned to the Gateway auditorium for a similarly quirky talk, this time given by artist Jane Simpson. Having studied at Chelsea School of Fine Art and the Royal Academy Schools, Simpson’s sculptural interests developed alongside her passion for Tupperware. Arranged into compositions imitating Giorgio Morandi, Simpson explores Tupperware’s amazing power to spark childhood memories. With soft lighting and excellent photography, the Tupperware took on new and invigorated images.
Finishing her talk with examples of other projects, Simpson highlighted her amazing versatility as a sculptor. Photographs showed banisters and chandeliers thickly encased in ice. Using the same principals as a household freezer, Simpson magically frosts metallic objects alluding to an array of complex themes which feature throughout her oeuvre.
An enlightening panel discussion proved the perfect ending to this successful programme. With time for audience questions and further discussion, the day demonstrated that this exhibition of 8 international sculptors was both valuable and innovative. Claire Barclay, curator of Causing Chaos and one of Scotland’s finest contemporary sculptors herself, explained her choice of works and the curatorial process, rounding off this exceptional conference.
If you are interested in any of the artists listed above, or wish to know more, head over to Causing Chaos before the 31 October to experience this showcase yourself.
One question did shine out by the end of the symposium, and that was, with a domestic and ordered feel, at what point did this show become chaotic – we’ll leave it to you to decide.