Lydia Hardwick, a ceramics artist and recently Royal College of London grad has put together a very special show over on Buy Some Damn Art that I am very pleased to share with you. Hardwick works with porcelain and her abstract objects gave way for a fun conversation about “art objects”.
Kate: What is your typical process creating these objects in porcelain?
Lydia: I use porcelain because it is very white. This means that when I mix colouring oxides and stains into it, the colours show up well. I tend to work quickly, making a lot of pieces in one go. Sometimes I squash the clay into big flat sheets, and cut out shapes to create a sort of collage. I also use porcelain a lot in its liquid form. This is called ‘slip’. I mix newspaper pulp into it, which makes it look a bit like porridge. I then pour the substance onto a surface and drop other small fragments of porcelain into it. When this dries, I might paint stained porcelain slip onto the surface. The true colours don’t emerge until the work has been fired in the kiln, so there is a lot of guesswork involved.
Kate: These objects are a bit foreign even though they are flat and decorated on the surface like paintings. How do people interact/ respond with them?
Lydia: My brother once told me a piece of mine looked like either pizza or sick. And you know what? He was spot on! Also, I enjoyed the fact that he read the work as being many things at once. I like pieces to occupy a space of inbetweeness. I like your idea that the work seems foreign, as I suppose I try to make things that cannot quite be recognised, placed or pinned to a particular definition.
Kate: What is an “art object” in your opinion?
Lydia: Generally, I don’t have criteria when it comes to valuing an object or surface, so this is a difficult question for me to answer. I am drawn to some things, and others I disregard, whether it is in a gallery or someone’s kitchen. Something I do value is a person’s ability to select and arrange: how they balance colour, surfaces and objects. It happens that a lot of people with this skill are involved in the creative industries. But then, I also think that the greengrocer over the road does a great job of arranging the fruit and veg.
Kate: Have you ever considered making functional objects?
Lydia: Yes! I love things that you can do things with.
Kate: You recently came back from two artist residencies in Scotland and Germany. What was the purpose of those stays and what did you take from them?
Lydia: Later this year I will be exhibiting at An TobarGallery on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. I was invited to take a research trip to the island in February, just to sniff the place out. My eyes were on stalks the whole trip: the place is gorgeous. Sion, the curator, told me that the island manages four seasons in one day. He was right! Both hail and blistering sunshine in the space of ten minutes. Quite soon after this visit, I headed off to Neumünster, Germany for a month residency at the Künstlerhaus Stadttöpferei. I used this time to produce a lot of work in their beautiful studios. I could walk everywhere within 10 minutes, so I think I gained at least 2 hours each day just by not travelling like I do in London. The way that I think about time definitely shifted after this experience. I was blown away by the generosity of the people in this town.
Kate: What excites you most about the future?
Lydia: I am always excited about the prospect of coffee, wine, eating and walking.