This June three female artists based in Cornwall particularly caught my attention. Each at a different stage in their career, each using different materials but all employing meticulous cutting and construction techniques to striking effect.
'In Leaf' Susanna Bauer's solo show at Lemon Street Gallery in Truro was simply stunning. Susanna works with found natural objects and uses crochet as a means to form construct, sculpt and embellish. In one work a perfect cylindrical hollow lined with crochet, cuts through layered plantus leaves. In another, magnolia leaves are sewn delicately and precisely into cuboids with cotton yarn and hang suspended from branches. There are hundreds of different formations each so fragile and painstakingly perfect that it draws you in with a sense of pure wonder.
I have been following the exceptional work of ceramic carver and woodturner Leah Jensen since first seeing her student profile on the Falmouth University website. Now an alumna and one of Craft Council's 'Hothouse 5' contingent, this June she showcased a series of new Black Clay vessels alongside her graduate collections at New Designs 'One Year On'. I am particularly fascinated by her complex carving process, which involves mapping 14th - 16th century European paintings to unfired clay using hundreds of pins. Leah then meticulously cuts into the to clay to reveal the hidden geometric patterns within the painting. She joins the porcelain to turned, charred wood to form a complete vessel - exposing the exquisite beauty of the contrasting materials.
I always aim to see as much as possible of the graduate shows and this year work by Falmouth Contemporary Crafts graduate Shannon Bartlett-Smith stood out for me. Shannon uses a combination of porcelain and paper-cutting to create an interplay of shadow and light. From her illuminated translucent Porcelain House a vast stream of intricate paper-cut smoke casts an ethereal swirl of shadow patterns. I was awed by Shannon's large scale paper-cut sculpture for Truro Cathedral titled 'He Quieted the Sea with His Power' (Job 26:12). Inspired by a stained glass window depicting fishing and fishermen, the work acknowledges the impact of the fishing industry throughout Cornish history up to the present day.
Images: (left to right) Work by Susanna Bauer, Leah Jensen and Shannon Bartlett-Smith
Words: Josie Ballin