The below blog post has been written by our Leicester University student placement, Corinna Leenen.
Detail from a skylight window at Blackwell
At first glance they seem like an unlikely trio: Gordon Baldwin’s dark, sculptural vessel, Bodil Manz’s meringue-light, transparent bowls and Lawson Oyekan’s slender and brittle terracotta pieces. The new display ‘Containers of Light and Darkness’ looks at ceramics from a different angle: keeping the art historical context, artist biography and details about the working process to a minimum, the grouping has been arranged to explore the poetic and metaphorical dimensions of the clay form. It is light and darkness, and their aesthetic and metaphorical qualities, which is at the centre of the display, uniting the works of these three artists and their investigations into the clay form of the cylinder, the ‘wounded’ terracotta surface and the vessel.
Light and darkness as a theme connects well with the architectural language of Blackwell’s interiors with its large windows, stained glass and great fireplaces, which Baillie Scott regarded as ‘substitutes for the sun.’
The display materialises impressions of distant places through distinct moods of light and darkness: from the hot Nigerian sun which dries up the clay of Oyekan’s early pieces to the long hours of light and darkness in Denmark where Bodil Manz produces her work, and the grey place of stones in Wales which has been a continuing influence for many of Baldwin’s vessels.