The domestic shelf

My work is about the domestic shelf and how it tells a story. Groom (2004 p18)’ reminds us of the radical instability of the object and its dependence on framing devises, both physical and conceptual.’ Framing is the final stage in the process from making, decorating, glazing and firing. The pots are finished and can be played with again on the shelf.

The domestic shelf in most homes contains objects that should not be there. Imagine for a moment, that you’ve just decorated your lounge. The mantel piece cleared and you’ve now carefully arranged a display of objects; the Ikea vase, the clock and the photo. It might stay tidy for a week but gradually over time, clutter/stuff accumulates. For example, phone chargers, photos, letters, tickets…. It’s actually these bits of mess that tell our story more than the display that was there in the first place.

Atfield (2000) has investigated order and clutter in the domestic and argues that this reflects our stage in the human life cycle. As a woman juggling children and work, domestic rituals and interspersed in my day. Clutter, washing and mess leave a mark in our homes and I wanted to try and capture that on the surfaces of my vessels, like a fossil of memory.

As well as marking my pots with traces of the everyday, I‘ve been making bits of ceramic clutter to arrange or hide next to my pots on a shelf. By making the old photos out of ceramic material gives more weight and a position of permanence.

Edmund De Waal’s minimalist, ordered shelves are awe inspiring but they are very serious. If I had one in my house, clutter would soon be added. My pots are a light hearted statement about minimalism meeting reality and the treasures found in the mundane activities which make up most of our lives.

One might argue that if my work has descended into chaos that I don’t need a shelf. Having experimented with trays, recycled shelves and hand built shelves, I have concluded that my little families of pots need a house to live in. my little shelves, remind me of a dolls house where the contents can be endlessly rearranged.

I’m dealing with ‘phenomological ideas of space and the psychology of the group and the individual’ (Foster 2009). The spaces I’m interested in are my own domestic ones. Bachelard (1964 p102) describes the home as ‘an empty shell, like an empty nest, invites daydreams of refuge’. The shelf becomes the shell and I might invite others to daydream!    



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