Conceptual Ceramics or Functional Pottery?

Handmade ceramics can mean different things to different people, whether it is functional or conceptual, it can be equal unique and special. Artist have different motivation and different way of perceiving the world around them. Ceramic art piece can be a result of different inspiration as nature, cultural or other influences, like history of art and design.

A ceramic piece contains design, form, surface integration, materials, and techniques. No matter if it is functional or conceptual, a ceramic piece has to have a specific form, subject and content. Still there is a difference between conceptual ceramics and functional pottery. A difference highlighted by how much someone is willing to spend to own these handmade ceramics.

From the conceptual point of view ceramic piece doesn’t have to be functional. Working on conceptual ceramic objects means thinking about position of the object, composition, space where we want to put our ceramic sculpture or installation. We are thinking about repetition, volume, different shapes and how are they consisting together. Conceptual piece can be something of our personal thinking and concept.

Conceptual art consists of rethinking and researching from history of art, aesthetics, sociology of art, psychology of art, philosophy of art, ontology of art and criticism of art. All this can be also follow by the individual character, sensibility and thoughts of an artist and visualized in the form of an art object.

One definition of fine art is "a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic and intellectual purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolour, graphics, and architecture”. In that sense, there are theoretical differences between the fine arts and the applied arts.

Functional pottery is created for its usefulness. The ceramic object has a function and purpose. It is a utilitarian object designed to be primarily useful. Making functional pottery means that we are solving problems, thinking of technical challenges, like the size of the pot, the position of the handle, or the volume in a vessel.

The designing of functional ceramics must be purposeful and practical, focusing less on the meaningfulness and aesthetics. Makers of useful object are interested in form, stability, longevity, durability, shape, weight and ergonomics. Luckily, ceramic piece can be beautiful and functional at same time.

This is our pick of few artists from both of these two disciplines:

Conceptual Ceramics:

Anna Kasabian - her work is inspired from nature shapes. She is using porcelain to transfer shapes from her environment. "When I first took porcelain into my hands, the sculptures that came so naturally to me recalled flowers in bloom. It is a theme that I continue to explore."

Aimee Perez - fine art sculptor. She works with human form and she has a special interest in gesture. She is exploring biblical and contemporary story’s, focusing on themes of suffering, redemption, grief and comfort.

Jennifer McCandless - fine art sculptor, her interest is the human figure and aspects of the human race. Through her works she is exploring the sociology of humans and their behaviour in satirical way. "My work is a combination of the formal qualities that are visually of interest to me and the narrative issues that define the story of one's life."

Functional Pottery:

Antoinette Badenhorst - her work is very delicate and translucent, she works and explores her shapes in porcelain."Translucency, high craft quality (not perfection) and artistic expression. These days I reach those goals without thinking about them, which allows me to challenge the clay and experience the joy or sorrow as a result of it."

Eve Behar - she creates teapots, serving plates, mugs and cups. She use a vibrant, colourful palette that can complement a modern or traditional setting. Each piece is one of a kind and made in limited series. Her work is wheel thrown, decorated with clay slip and glazed using a variety of methods and colours.

Troy Bungart - he work in cone 6 oxidation and cone 10 reduction.

He is focusing on simple serving cup, and making his ceramic piece to perfection.

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