Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Doing Lines

By Patrick Sutczak
Sawtooth Gallery 27 April – 19 May

Sonja Brough
Collective rainbow segments of a serpentine whole weave their way across the wall, hanging effortlessly (how, I do not know) upon the entrance to Sawtooth’s expansive Front Gallery. This is the first introduction to the exhibition by Sonja Brough. Although not immediately apparent, these cups displayed in their eclectic arrangement of sometimes end-to-end suspension suggest a pattern in motion, but not as we know it. 
They spoon together as if hinged by an invisible spine caught in a whiplash of flight across air, land, water, or, in this case, wall.

Each segment bears the unique stamp of the handmade evident in the unmistakeable irregularities of the forms themselves and the coloured pattern that separates them. I see now, that these are handle-less cups. The fact that my eye can see the slightest variation in light as I almost press my nose against the surface suggests that this isn’t paintwork at play here – this is something else. These vessels have texture ever so slight, which is deceiving because, like the display itself, everything seems so fluid and so natural, but there is a process of which I am not quite sure, that makes me want to engage with another active sense and touch one. So I do.

That is the beauty, I think, of ceramics. There is a tactile quality that invites investigation beyond aesthetic regard, especially with those on display at Sawtooth. In addition to the ‘wall of cups’, Brough displays work less functional, but more experimental upon the adjacent gallery walls. No less inviting, these works are offered as a whole, but are somehow disjointed from the entrance treat of snaking colour and uniform shapes. Low, high, in the corners, horizontal, and vertical, these works that are fixed to the wall out measure, outweigh, and outsmart the functionality of the open-topped, closed-bottom vessels seen upon entrance.

Ceramics as sculpture sees that the works Brough has created in the Front Gallery space to be objects that provide almost no functionality beyond the aesthetic, yet they are enticing due to the texture, shape and process. The forms themselves are elongated triangles woven together with string-like beads of clay reaching a length of around two feet. 

Almost skeletal in structure, they appear to have a degree of strength that binds the three sides together and disguises the beginning and end, and in fact, front or back. I assume the objects have no authoritative ‘right way’ to be displayed, but assumption is a dangerous thing when considering an artist’s intentions. On the wall, the objects are beautifully spaced. Attached both horizontally and vertically, the fact that they are all so uniform in their design and length, is perhaps more a demonstration of versatility than of an aesthetic choice on the whole. Whatever the reasoning, it works. The slight show of colour (on the inside of the objects) is a subtler affair than the kaleidoscope wall of cups, but the two works are very different beasts. The function on display alongside the form makes for quite a dynamic exhibition and an insight into the skill of Brough and her ability for experimentation to achieve curious, yet striking outcomes.

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