Minerals and natural phenomena – Artistic expression through rule-based investigations

Katrine Køster Holst, Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Department of Art and Craft

The research project “Minerals and natural phenomena – Artistic expression through rule-based investigations” explores how ceramic art can be developed using techniques based on basic natural principles of landscape formation. The investigations are based on several years’ experience in the ceramic field, and revolves around questions such as how do formations grow, move and/or disappear when subjected to natural circumstances like erosion, depositions of sediments and weathering? What is the connection between the core and the surface of an object? What is the basis of my emotional attachment to clay and landscapes?
Norway, Nord-Trøndelag, Kattmarka 2009: I walked around on the dried and hardened clay. Three months have passed since the slide and the area was abandoned, but houses, cars and some potted plants were still scattered around. As I touched the blue-grey clay, my body suddenly reacted and I felt unwell. At the time, and in hindsight, I began questioning how I worked with clay as a material. I felt alienated from a material I had previously believed I knew intimately. What did I really know about clay?
Ceramic techniques can be used to liquify solid clay, but is this related to chemical reactions in a clay slide? In order to understand the mechanisms that cause a slide, I researched clay from a natural science perspective with emphasis on theories of particle structures in clay. It became clear that while the two phenomena differ they also have similarities. These investigations raised new interesting and unexpected questions. Observing landforms and the geological processes became part to my practise, and led to obvious as well as more subtle and unexpected thoughts, observations and questions relating to my practice as well as the field of traditional and contemporary ceramics. Clay for me has transformed from being a raw material for ceramic production into becoming a substance representing the processes of earth and strata.

The project is presented as a work in process/work in progress exhibition at Kunstnernes Hus (Oslo) during the Artistic Research Week January 22¬–27, 2019. The exhibition will show results, processes and investigations from various phases of the research project in an integrated installation of various media including ceramics, raw clay, drawings, artist books, sketchbooks, essays, photographs, video clips, collected items and a selection of relevant literature.

September 2018