“My figurative ceramic sculpture often explores the relationship between historic artefacts and contemporary art and the significance of objects in museum collections. Archaeology presents a fragmented narrative of past lives and holds parallels with the practice of psychoanalysis where layers are carefully stripped away to reveal hidden information and knowledge. My clay work references these traces, as well as the mythology and symbolism associated with clay. And my main process of press moulding offers a range of metaphorical readings concerning human lives. The hollowness of the clay figure, necessary in most kiln fired clay sculpture, is enclosed by its clay shell, the kabuk, a Turkish word that suggests protection of the inner self.
Inspired by idealised and uncanny representations of the human, mimetic figures such as statues, dolls and puppets, my characters point to an animated narrative in which objects have a life of their own. Using free built elements and press moulded sections, I create composite hybrid figures and otherworldly beings, which at the same time seem familiar, reflecting the complexity of identity and otherness.
While an interest in narrative and the continuity of history has informed my practice, the use of the figure as the medium was broadly inspired by life drawing classes, begun almost as far back as my clay practice. The relationship between two and three dimensions and its realisation in various relief forms has intermittently been explored as an expression of the liminal spaces where change happens. Recently this has developed into a parallel drawing practice in which various life class characters are reworked into their own private narratives. Mostly using charcoal and pastel, my mark making has a physicality and fluidity which connects to clay practice and builds a deeper relationship to my ceramic sculpture.”
Christie Brown is an artist and Emerita Professor of Ceramics at the University of Westminster in London. She graduated from Harrow School of Art in 1982 and set up her north London studio that year. At Westminster she taught on the BA, MA and PhD programmes while maintaining and developing her sculptural practice. She was Principal Investigator on the AHRC project Ceramics in the Expanded Field, awarded to the University’s Ceramics Research Centre-UK in 2011, which included her solo exhibition DreamWork at the Freud Museum in London in 2012.
Recent major exhibitions include Icons of Uncertainty, Messums Wiltshire (2022); Untold Forms of Life, Messums Wiltshire (2021); AWARD, British Ceramics Biennial (2021); Cultural Icons, The Potteries Museum (2019); Beyond the Vessel, Mesher, Istanbul (2019) and Messums Wiltshire (2019-20); Dream On, V&A Museum of Childhood (2018); Humanism, Clay Arch Gimhae Museum, Korea (2018); Material Earth 1 and 2, Messums Wiltshire (2017 and 2018) and Marking the Line, Sir John Soane’s Museum (2013).
As an Emerita Professor she remains a member of the CRC-UK in an advisory role, where dialogues develop around the expanded field of ceramic practice and continue to open up global conversations through lectures and conferences. Brown is a member of Royal Society of Sculptors and her work is featured in private and public collections in Europe and the USA, including the Victoria and Albert Museum UK and the Mint Museum USA.
Brown has been represented by Messums West since 2017.
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