Properties in Matter by Julie Cromwell

Properties in Matter

Julie Cromwell

15 April to 12 May 2024

Sanderson are pleased to present the exhibition Properties in Matter featuring a new collection of works by award winning ceramicist Julie Cromwell.          
 
This new series extends Cromwell’s technical exploration into the physical properties of clay; the artist using resources from the land that surrounds her in Northland to both create and fire her vessels.
 
Cromwell has been utilising the materials that surround her for many years - collecting leaves and combustible materials to use during wood and pit firing processes. More recently, the artist has begun to harvest clay from her own garden in Whāngarei. This is a natural and exciting progression for the artist: since her ethos has always been to use materials close-to-hand, with minimal environmental impact and an emphasis on site specificity.
 
Many years of material investigation affords Cromwell the confidence and freedom to experiment with her techniques. The artist often introduces ‘non-clay’ materials into the firing process, which creates different surface effects and variations. In this series, the artist has begun adding new components, such as mild steel, which provides a new opportunity - balancing the known and unknown, adding to the intrigue and mystery of the relationship between clay and steel, forged through fire. 
 
Within the fire, both the clay and steel undergo a state of flux and transformation.
The clay becomes stone and the steel is compromised; losing its rigidness, and in some cases becoming fluid. The end product combines hard surfaces with the soft, and solid with liquid, in a pleasing tension between the material states. Occasionally the materials are pushed to the point of breaking and shattering.
 
Cromwell notes:
 
“The firing process allows me to let go, relenting control. Unsure of the outcome, with the combination of temperature and atmosphere, these works have undergone their own transformations. An irreversible process manifests itself unifying all the elements to present a combined self: something that, in some cases, completely redefined my understanding of these materials and their capabilities.”
 
After graduating from Derbyshire University, UK, with a major in Studio Ceramics, Cromwell completed her Master of Fine Arts degree at Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design, New Zealand, in 2019. Cromwell was the first-prize winner of the Glaister Ennor Graduate Art Awards 2019 and a finalist in the Richard T Nelson Award in 2022. The artist was selected as a finalist in the Portage Ceramic Awards at Te Uru Contemporary Gallery Nov 2023 – Mar 2024.
 

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