Devon Skull is the first piece of ‘Devon Ware’ revealed from a new body of work created by renowned American conflict ceramicist Michelle Erickson, as part of her residency leading up to the North Devon Festival of Pottery.
Devon Skull is made of red Virginia clay slipped white, with a sgraffito design directly inspired by the decoration on Devon dishes and other forms imported to Jamestown, USA, from Bideford, North Devon, around 1650.
Based in Virginia, USA, Michelle Erickson often engages with materials and traditional techniques local to the places around the world that she visits, and addresses political, social and environmental themes of a local or global relevance.
As a ceramicist she is deeply inspired by archaeology, as she explained in her artist statement for her 2012 residency at the V&A, London:
‘My career-long fascination with ceramic history during the period of Western exploration, expansion, and dominion began with exposure to archaeological ceramics in the ‘colonial triangle’ of Virginia. Sherds of British, European, Asian, and native American pottery unearthed in early colonial excavations represent a remarkable global convergence of cultures embodied in clay.’ For more information, please visit http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/c/michelle-erickson/.
Erickson’s interest in skulls as an artistic form is inspired by the lesser known fact that many archaeological digs that involve the unearthing of historic pottery, turn up skeletal fragments of the original owners of the items and therefore play a crucial part in shaping the artefacts’ history.
Erickson is currently making new work from the famous Fremington (or Combrew) clay on which the pottery industry of North Devon was founded. She also hopes to make pieces with Virginia clay and have them fired in a Bideford kiln and will be creating some unique pots in Bideford inspired by those exported to Jamestown, USA, in 1650, using identical materials.
Michelle Erickson will be holding a talk at White Moose, Barnstaple, on 19th September, 7-9pm, as part of the North Devon Festival of Pottery.
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