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Back to basics: Kai Vaarandi focuses on the form and colour techniques of Annika Teder.

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ANNIKA TEDER, A CERAMIST BY VOCATION, focuses on large forms and coloured clay bodies. Drawing inspiration from a flamboyant expressive palette and also from mountainous landscapes and the fascinating world of minerals, she has sculpted her large plates, vases and objects, frequently using inlay technique.

In 2003, while working as an artist-in-residence at the open studio in the Ceramics and Glass Center (Shinseikikougeikan) in Seto, Japan, and pursuing once again the elusive clay images, she took notice of the patterns appearing on canvas after rolling the clay through the cloth. By chance she discovered the suitable qualities of a certain rice paper, which enabled printing from the wet clay slab. A picture emerged on the paper like a colour monoprint. This new notion opened up an entire ocean of possibilities for her--images transferring from one material to another, from clay to paper, continuing their existence in quite another mode. It was evident that something new was born through the interaction of clay, water and paper--a harmony of pastels, a new abstractionist game with new rules. The two-dimensional clay prints convey an unexpected, visual quality: the air of unearthliness and unvexed balance.

Once the printing is completed, Annika Teder takes up the vital part of her work--using the clay slab, still in a plastic state, as a layout for modelling three-dimensional objects. The spatiality alters the message, the impact field. Animated, vigorous movement comes into being, and an empty space evolves in the mid-section of the vessel between the slabs. The void renders the idea, shifts it to a substantially new level. It is the void that counts.

Experimenting with clay and paper grew into the starting point of her solo exhibition Transformations: Paper-Clay-Paperclay in 2007, where she showed laconic minimalistic installations alongside her earlier works. Some of the bright printing slabs were incorporated into the faces of dark straightlined vases. In the background one could see the twin prints--several metres of rice paper hanging from the vaulted ceiling, representing floating and looping subtle images (The Spring Night).

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The exhibition took place in the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design, located in the mediaeval old town of Tallinn and accommodated in a 17th century granary. The focus of the exhibition was a monumental installation. Teder's most recent work--the impressive white arc, accompanied by the white circle--was elegantly displayed under the curvilinear vaulted aisle and sturdy pillars of the old storehouse. The artist was intrigued and inspired by both the ancient room and the arc as a concept: the purity of its form, one of the most primeval of architectural constructions. The idea of an arc (a bridge or a mountain--round, convex, arching, bending, lifting, eventually forming a circle) began to take its shape in Seto. She was enthralled by the magnificent picturesque Japanese scenery with its rough terrain and misty hills, which left a lasting imprint on her mind. Since then, she has been expanding the idea of an arc or a bridge: arcs as bridges that take the traveller further on his/her road, to the unknown; arc as a bridge over troubled waters; arc as a thought that connects and unites people; and arc as a challenge waiting to be crossed, a link between idea and action.

The size of the arcs created in the earlier years corresponded to the size of the kiln; their nerikomi-surfaces (coloured clays combined to form a pattern) glowed with kaleidoscopic contrasting images and abundant relief (see Floating Bridge of Dreams). In the course of time the idea of making a grand arc germinated in her mind. The complexity of its construction and the scale of this formidable work needed to be planned for months. The museum hall appeared to be a suitable venue, a graceful place to exhibit sculptural pieces. The artist also decided to design pedestals and panels of stainless steel for her work, allowing the archaic primary images to come forward. The well-known qualities of paperclay--its lightness, its coherence and plasticity--made it the appropriate material for modelling an extensive arc.

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Paper had acted as a printing surface on the clay slab. Now the time had come for the next transformation: paper had to be incorporated into china clay. It was this union--the lightweight paperclay--that enabled the large-scale arcs to come into being.

Along the white arcs, white corals blossomed at the exhibition, inspired by the allure of the ocean floor and the underwater world. The paper china-clay is used extensively--the creatures look rich and frothy, branching off, fanning out. It is a fine example of how paperclay results in a light yet indented sculpture. The interpretation of the real earth could also be seen: mellow soil and ploughed fields with vibrant stalks sprouting up. The contrast becomes especially striking and sharp when looking at the pale grey nerikomi stalks--graphic, fragile and elaborate, emerging vividly from the furrows (see The Field).

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Somehow the artist, earlier engaged in expressive multicolour schemes, has evolved into a designer, arranging the space with sculptural architectural forms and the basic opposition of achromatic colours like black and white, accompanied by the shades of grey from the steel plates. At the same time she also seems to take delight in the process of change and transformation in the realm of clay, paperclay and paper, textures and reliefs, monotypes and colourings. The different stages of the transformations unfold before the viewer--clay in water, colours in clay, clay on paper, colours on paper, paper in clay, clay in fire, etc.

In the course of her intensive exploration, in the quest for new challenges and media, Annika Teder has become engaged with basic geometric shapes and opened up a new chapter in her work.

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REFERENCES:

Classic Haiku. Masters' Selection. Selected and translated by Yuzuru Miura. Tuttle Publishing, Boston, 2001.

Kai Vaarandi is the lecturer of the history of ceramics at the Estonian Academy of Arts and an artist. The exhibition mentioned in the article was open in April-May 2007; the interview with the artist took place in September 2007. Photography: Ulo Josing, Laur H. Laanemaa, Tiit Rammul.
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Author:Vaarandi, Kai
Publication:Ceramics Technical
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2008
Words:1023
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