Phoebe Cummings

8 July 2015
 Phoebe Cummings Production Line (2015) Clay, rope, wire, pulley 260 x 15cm (approximately). Images © Sylvain Deleu

Southampton City Art Gallery

Phoebe Cummings (b.1981, Walsall, UK) is based in Stafford. She works without a permanent studio space, creating detailed installations and sculptures directly on site. She has undertaken a number of residencies, exhibitions and commissions in the UK, USA and Greenland, including six months as ceramics artist-in-residence at the Victoria & Albert Museum (2010); a fellowship at Camden Arts Centre (2012–13); and a solo exhibition at the University of Hawaii Art Gallery, Honolulu. In 2011 she was the winner of the British Ceramics Biennial Award. Production Line is a joint acquisition between Southampton City Art Gallery, York Museums Trust, and Shipley Art Gallery which all have outstanding ceramic collections.

Made directly in the gallery space of Southampton City Art Gallery, a construction of clay is built onto a rope and hoisted as it is made. This temporary sculpture considers the choreography of making, beyond the studio or factory, and the possibility for clay to produce objects that are neither fixed nor permanent. Cummings uses a labour-intensive process of pressing clay through a tea strainer to produce a fine texture. Historically a technique used to suggest grass or fur on ceramic figurines, it is translated here onto a large-scale abstract form. After it is shown, the piece will be dissolved into water and the clay re-claimed as raw material.

The acquisition of Production Line breaks boundaries in conventional museum collecting. In contrast to previous acquisitions, the work is ephemeral, almost a performance, and will only exist in all three collections as an archive, which includes time-lapse photography and documentary film.

Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 2015


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