Kiwi Kraft pt 4: Francis Upritchard's Figures & Martino Gamper's 100 chairs

Tate Shots segment on Francis Upritchard's show "Save Yourself" at the 2009 Venice Biennale

During my stay in Hamilton, Charade Honey was firing a wood kiln with Kiwi transplant Francis Upritchard. Francis and her husband, Martino Gamper, live in London, where they have established themselves on the international art scene. Focusing mostly on sculpture Francis uses ceramics in her installations. Click here to check out her work at the Saatchi Gallery. It is always interesting to see artists from other mediums work clay into the high art scene. In this context technique/craftsmanship often take a back seat to concept. This can stretch the boundaries of clay but it can also misrepresent the cutting edge of contemporary ceramics. It would be great to invite non-clay artists to our conferences/studios in order to see how interaction with the greater ceramic world would affect their work.

Martino focuses on furniture design. His large project, A 100 chairs in a hundred days was pure genius. By setting up a simple set of boundaries (one chair per day from found objects) Gamper performs a meditation on the chair form. Many of these are amazing designs in their own right but the real power is in the variety of the collection. Here are a few that were of particular interest to me. Click here for more info on the project.

During the wood firing Martino suggested the group make firebox chicken. I have heard of kiln fired pizza and hobo dinners (chicken and potatoes wrapped in tin foil) but this was my first experience with this kind of recipe. A full chicken was surrounded by spiced sweet potatoes and covered with stoneware clay. This was then placed right outside the mouse holes of the firebox, where it was covered with excess coals. A slow roast dried out the clay, steaming the food inside. When the clay has hardened to simibisque you crack it open and its ready to eat. I didn't taste the final result but it sounded like a delicious idea. 

This post is included in Kiwi Kraft, a mini series of blogs about my visits to potters and pottery centers on the North Island of New Zealand. For related posts click on the following links.

Kiwi Kraft pt 1: Dive, Jump, Climb, Paddle....I'm in love

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