I think one of the most basic aspects of making pieces in the clay studio is being conscious of the fact that function and aesthetic go hand in hand. Let’s face it: given the choice, you’d be more likely to drink out of a mug you thought was pretty rather than one you thought was pretty ugly. Now, if that same “pretty” mug had a hole in the bottom, you’d probably opt for the “pretty ugly” one in the hopes it doesn’t have the same critical flaw. You’re probably saying, “Duh,” but applying this concept in a more enhanced manner can totally transform a simple piece.
Here are a few exceptionally successful functional wares transformed into sculptural works by Johnson Tsang:
These pieces are perfectly executed with the marriage between form and function in mind. When it comes to pottery in particular, there are virtually boundless opportunities to incorporate sculptural elements. Pieces that are entirely sculptural, however, may be a bit of an exception; their function is to be seen. Beyond capturing the visual interest and provoking the thoughts of a viewer, a work that is entirely sculptural does not have any specific, predefined function.
Still, these aforementioned sculptural elements of functional works do not have to be representational. Abstracted elements are often very successful when incorporated into pottery as well, and are perhaps more heavily relied on than the representational. For example, Aaron Harrison’s fine art pieces are absolutely exquisite. I love how he creates swooping lines down the surface of his vessels from lining up cubes of all things.
Much like clay itself, the definition of what is functional ware and what is sculpture is very fluid, and part of what gives clay artwork such character.
Featured Image: A Broken Bowl by Johnson Tsang. 2014. Porcelain. JohnsonTsang.Wordpress.com