My interest in curation stems from a love of contemporary craft and art as well as a desire to aid the art world in becoming a more accessible place, with a hope of working alongside artists and communities from rural areas outside of the capital cities where the art world is mainly located. I am interested in providing platforms for artists and communities in the peripheries, beyond the cultural centres. I have undertaken work experience opportunities at many craft and contemporary art galleries such as The Thelma Hubert Gallery, and Make South West, where I curated my first show in 2019, Methods, Making, Madness and more recently interning at The Box in Plymouth as part of the Curation MA.
Attitudes in Clay
Challenging conservative perceptions of clay in contemporary art and society, curator Emily Cartwright presents work by artists Simon Bayliss and Kate Merry.
Simon Bayliss is an artist, music producer and potter based at Porthmeor Studios in St Ives, Cornwall. Simon’s works reference the history of studio pottery in Devon and Cornwall but in conjunction with diverse local histories, including queer culture and the rave community, often challenging the conservative perceptions of the slipware tradition which he loosely works with. Simon creates works that are recognisably for use in the home – robust and deftly made, with rich and unfussy painterly decoration that in some way references the South West’s cultural traditions which engage with a sense of place and identity.
Kate Merry is a mixed-media sculptor, painter and illustrator based in Cornwall. She mixes the ordinary with the historical to create humorous and unexpected pieces. For Attitudes in Clay, Kate has made a series of ceramic sculptures about the last witches to be hanged in Exeter, as a radical history project, also referencing gendered associations to making and the domesticity of ceramic knick-knacks, as a feminist critique.
The exhibition reframes the contemporary ceramic vessel as a utilitarian object that is more than just its functionality, but a cultural container for social values, a sense of community, cultural attitudes, individualism and place. Looking beyond the commodification and traditional associations of ceramics, Attitudes in Clay is an exploration into how clay’s purpose has evolved and continues to evolve through the medium of ceramics within the contemporary art world.
The chosen artists’ works explore identities within the South West of England, a place where clay holds particular significance as the location of extraction and mining as well as a place with historical connections to artists and potters such as Bernard Leech, Shoji Hamada and Michael Cardew. Existing and commissioned works by Simon Bayliss and Kate Merry have been selected and developed as artistic responses to the questions raised surrounding clay’s relationship with identity, social attitudes, community and place.
Positive Light Projects,
184-187 Sidwell Street,
Exeter EX4 6RD
10–19 June 2022
Opening daily: 12–5pm