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Life or death (of materials)

Life or death (of materials), 2020 features in an MA Fine Art exhibition ‘preview’ @thisisnotabalconyshow and Instagram ‘takeover’ @cambridge_school_of_art


Two vessels - one crafted from commercial crank clay, the other from locally dug and processed gault clay are composed by hand and then decomposed by water - one sudden, the other gradual – a transformation of energy - time plus matter. Inspired by the forces of nature and breakdown as an essential form of collective agency, this work focuses on the event as means of exploring issues of sustainability in the context of the politics of the environment (groundwater abstraction) and the museum (ceramic collections & display). The work imagines an integrated ecological art history that situates historical categories in relation to the environment.

The making of Life or death (of materials)

Central to the work is the vessel form. Historically and culturally resonant, clay vessels are among the earliest known objects made by humans. A paradoxical object charged with symbolic, metaphorical and philosophical meaning – it’s universally both strangely familiar and familiarly strange.

The destruction of the Life or death (of materials)

The destruction or decomposition of the vessels seeks to challenge the object as the permanence of the event.

The altered temporality of the juxtaposed videos of the same running time alludes to our perception of time – could ‘deep’ or geological time provide us with the perspective we need for a more sustainable future?

For the full 24 minute versions of the 2 channel videos visit


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