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Lauren Winstone

Whisky Bottle, from Iris

2002
saggar-fired ceramic
210mm x 100mm x 80mm

Note Originally exhibited as part of the still life grouping Iris.

Provenance

Private collection, Hamilton.

Exhibitions

Heralds and Harbingers, Lopdell House, Auckland, 2002.

Essay

Lauren Winstone has gathered expertise in swimming against the tide. Quietly, but with a positive energy, this is what she has always done. Early on, as an art student, she chos...

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Estimate $500 - $800

Swimming Against the Tide

by Moyra Elliott

Lauren Winstone has gathered expertise in swimming against the tide. Quietly, but with a positive energy, this is what she has always done. Early on, as an art student, she chose clay as a principal medium in a time when it was viewed as fit only for use in making maquettes for bronze casting. The very mention of ceramic brought shudders of disbelief that such a material could be viewed as suitable for any sort of expression in “real art.” Now, with an MFA and a growing number of notable exhibitions and residencies achieved, she is still working with it.

However, clay is currently labelled a medium du jour and the barriers erected between Fine and Applied arts, or what might be viewed as conceptual versus process driven expression, have largely crumbled and artists are crossing what previously seemed insurmountable barriers and travelling in both directions.

Some members of the embedded-in-clay community have widened their parameters and extended vocabularies based in ceramics to encompass installation, performance, video and other post-studio pursuits usually regarded as lying within the domain of Fine Arts. Then, as the wheels of art fashion grind relentlessly on, some graduates from Fine Arts courses now consider evident process as de rigueur, which has led to sometimes curious ventures: exhibited ceramics evidencing construction glitches and kiln accidents that raise eyebrows within ceramic-community culture, yet that are sometimes regarded as engaging developments in wider art circles. Conversely, some such radical departures from ceramic conventions can enliven a culture inclined to over-reaction when protecting traditional values (yet also welcoming of new concepts when those values are acknowledged and respected). Winstone’s work sometimes deals directly with the assumptions surrounding these scenarios, and elsewhere neatly sidesteps all such associations.

Winstone works with the vessel, a focus seen as conservative even in ceramic circles, themselves often deeply conservative particularly with regards to functionality. Early work by Winstone dealt with the still life—a trend begun by the Australian Gwyn Hanssen Pigott (Australia) and Ann Verdcourt (UK/NZ) and still explored by some ceramicists. The ceramic still life is an amalgamation of the quintessential vessel and the installation format and, from a contemporary art perspective, runs some risk of appearing ingenuous or even opportunistic, as it echoes fine art practices without necessarily acknowledging for the conceptual basis of those practices. It honours neither historical precedence nor utility, and can present as no more than a reconfiguration of formalist elements, in which multiplicity itself becomes the only signifier. However, the work by these two trend-setters deserves expansion and recognition.