Minerals and Natural Phenomena

– New methods for working with clays and other raw materials in contemporary ceramic art

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

Is it possible to create art made ​​of the same materials as ceramics without connotations to ceramic history and tradition? I would like to direct attention to the intrinsic properties of raw, natural materials, and explore the origins of the fundamental components of ceramics. By combining materials and processes I will gain insight, expand perspectives, and further develop the available ways of creating autonomous sculptural ceramics.

I will examine clay and minerals in their natural form, through fieldwork, and look closer at their inherent abilities: Melting points, expansion/contraction, crystal formations and reactivity towards other compounds. To determine the minerals intrinsic dynamics I need to learn more about refining treatments, from the raw material in mines to purified minerals that are ready for industrial use.

Another aspect of the project is to look at geological processes that have the capacity to slowly shape the earth into temporary or permanent formations. The following example illustrates what I mean: Quick clay landslides are triggered by earth tremors, when the salt that bound the porous structure together has been washed away over time. What does salt do to clay, to clay in motion, and over time?

My approach is primarily practical in character. Ideas will be developed through hands-on, physical contact with the materials. Fieldwork exercises and dialogue with various specialists within the field of geology will initiate the work process and be vital sources of inspiration. When it comes to experiments in practice, I will develop sets of rules based on inspiration from my research on geological processes and raw materials.

Minerals + process = ?

Minerals + minerals + process = ?

Minerals + clay + process = ?

Minerals + minerals + clay + process + ( …) = ?

Iron ore + sedimentary = ?

Iron ore + cobalt + sedimentary = ?

Iron ore + porcelain + sedimentary = ?

Iron ore + cobalt + porcelain + sedimentary + ( …) =?

This strategy requires some experiments that will seem absurd, and some rules will be difficult to implement. For me this strategy is a method of unfolding unexpected directions and triggering valuable developments. The results of each experiment cannot be directly classified as failures or successes, as even the most formless and useless results may give ideas for other experiments. The rules might change over time, as the main point is to create a dynamic process where one result has effect on the next experiment, causing chain reactions into unknown territories.

Another challenge is that research into geological processes and raw materials offers infinite possibilities. As a starting point I will make a pragmatic selection of materials and processes based on geographic vicinity and practical issues.

As a result of the project I aim to create a selection of ceramic works that contain the sense and experience of being grown out of their own matter.