Lauren Winstone: Debutantes

The rim, the handle, the base and the wall: pot parts escape expectations in Auckland ceramicist Lauren Winstone’s works.

Words: Mark Amery

Photography: Kallan Macleod

The rim, the handle, the base and the wall: pot parts escape expectations in Auckland ceramicist Lauren Winstone’s works. Turning and curling they snake and jump, cut together into intelligent yet simple, surprising but expressive new abstract forms. Liberated from domestic function, the interaction of shape and earth textures provides an animated new visual language. Small stacks chatter together as lively communities.

“I know a lot of potters look at my work and find it really abstract,” remarks Winstone, “but I’ve found if my work gets too abstract it loses a point of tension. I’ve found the most interesting works are where the conventions are still [there but] knocked around a bit.”

Represented by Auckland’s Two Rooms, Winstone is part of a contemporary revival in ceramics, a new generation of practitioners from a conceptually based cross-media fine arts training. New Zealand contemporaries, also represented by prominent art dealers, include Suji Park, Tessa Laird and Isobel Thom. “It’s been a bit of a boysy scene before now,” notes the artist.

Winstone graduated with a masters of fine art with honours from Elam Auckland University in 2010. Earlier in her training she tried to work off the forms that she saw in museums, but study at Elam challenged her to consider more deeply what was really driving her: shapes.

“I thought I’d go to university and my work would get smarter, but I decided to be more honest and come from the most genuine place. I found I could look at really simple forms and they would open up to me in really interesting and complex ways. I found a place of play.”

A solo Two Rooms show over winter 2014 (another is scheduled for 2015) brought together new work with that from a strong project at the Dowse Art Museum Holding Holes in 2013. She has also previously exhibited at a group show at Auckland’s Hopkinson Mossman as well as Objectspace in Auckland and Waikato Museum in Hamilton.

In 2010 Winstone attended the Guldagergaard Ceramics Residency in Denmark, where she was surrounded by artists whose work was also more about a play with form. She’s currently really enjoying the pots with beak-like sprouts of Britsh potter Alison Britons and Johannes Peters’ composite, stretched, “almost collagey” platters.

Winstone extends us just as her rims unfurl over brims and bend out into space. She takes the familiar and with it encourages us to look and think differently. There’s a strong gestural quality to the work, the human corporeal quality of reaching out and trying to make fit. Conceptually and figuratively, Winstone’s ceramics slip out of their set place, ready to slink and tumble across the table.

Image: Lauren Winstone. Portrait by Kallan Macleod.

This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 71, JAN – MAR, 2015.

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