Thursday, 19 January 2012

Todo Sobre Mi Padre (All about my father)

This exhibition at the Craft Study Centre, Farnham, features the ceramics of Nicholas Arroyave-Portela and is a personal journey looking at his identity. The works are untitled but all reflect his sense of not belonging to one place and the fractured nature or multiplicity of his identity. Some of them were quite literal with shattered maps showing the route his father had taken from South America to England via Spain. Another shows a fractured Union Jack in muted colours with a shape like the outline of South America at its broken centre. These pieces reminded me of maps of tectonic plates and although I appreciated the sense of upheaval they represented I felt these were the least successful pieces in the exhibition. The work that I found more interesting was the piece with layered clay folds that appeared to ripple over each other enclosing layers of place and identity; it was less map-like, more enigmatic and therefore more subtle. Interestingly it also appeared more like a textile than the flag piece and the gradual shading from one side to the other made it appear even more three dimensional. Arroyave-Portela made his name with hand thrown vessels and some of these are also on show in this exhibition but he has now moved into making these more conceptual wall pieces.

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