Bums, Lips and Tums


I’ve been encouraging my beginner’s to go and visit Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things at The Hepworth Wakefield.

I visited the exhibition back in February and got a bit giddy. I saw pots that I’ve encountered in my affair with ceramics. Pots that I’ve forgotten about but ones that reminded me of the books I’ve poured over and the museums I’ve visited (particularly my 'misspent youth' in the Egyptology departments at Bolton Museum and Manchester Museum). Pots that remind me of friendships, people and places, and pots that I envy. It’s a stunning exhibition of Odundo’s work and the things that connect to materialise ideas. Tangible manifestations of observed, felt and experienced things.

Historic pots have always, and still do, influence my thinking, I talk about them but not enough - it’s a loss. So in our current six week beginner’s courses we started at the beginning. Looking at archetypal forms and talking about the anatomy of pots. Working in miniature we’ve been observing profiles and negotiating shoulders, bellies, necks, lips and feet. Our beginner’s courses focus on techniques and process & while these pots reference historic pots they’re deconstructed and assembled in parts - not historically accurate. If we copied processes we’d be there for weeks. We’ve got a few more centuries to get through and the purpose of our first session was to negotiate material and form and begin to build up a material sensitivity. We spend a lot of time talking about clay as if it’s human. It feeds back, records, reflects. It has body parts and we connect with it with our bodies. Negotiating it we become aware of our own body, its movements, its potential, and our limitations.

The Journey of Things brings together more than 50 of Odundo’s vessels alongside a large selection of historic and contemporary objects which she has curated. The exhibition reveals the vast range of references from around the globe that have informed the development of her unique work.