The Understory of Objects

Posted by on March 28, 2012

When my grandmother passed away in 1992 I didn’t let my parents sell any of her china sets. Looking back, I am not sure why I was so adamant that we hang on to them, but I am glad I was. They all have names – ‘The Apple’ service for eight, ‘The Ironstone’ service for twelve and ‘The Ones from Japan’ service for eight (I need to come up with a better name for those). I add these to my current everyday china: ‘The Target with Ikea accents’ service for eight, and ‘That Corningware’ service for ten. For those keeping track at home, I can now set a table for 46 without borrowing a single dish (but I don’t have that many glasses).*

As I unpacked two sets of my grandmother’s china this weekend I was thinking about how the things we leave behind are more than just things to the people who loved us. They tell stories, and jog memories. My grandmother obviously liked dishes and silver (my mother still has ‘the sterling’), and I like them too. I like them enough to pack them through two moves and insist they be carried from Colorado to California. None of those dishes are patterns that I would choose if I were buying them now. That’s beside the point.

When I saw these pieces by Beccy Ridsdel my first thought was “yes, that is exactly it! If you could peel back the surface of treasured objects you would find layers of stories underneath.”

Of course that is not at all the meaning she was going for. The series is called Art/Craft and in her statement on Behance Network she elaborates:

“This work was based on the (age-old) art/craft debate. I know we all have our own opinions, but I think craft is technical and art is meaningful (or a reason for being made, beyond the thing itself) Overly simplistic? Probably, but for ceramicists this can be a big issue as ceramics is almost universally seen as craft regardless.

I chose to make a series of definitely craft objects – bone china plates, mugs, jugs – and ‘dissect’ them to see what was beneath. Turns out, they are craft through and through.”

And yet – that is not at all what I saw. So, one could argue that my experience elevates this series to the level of art.

Or ‘one’ could just look at the pretty photos of pretty objects. I particularly like the pieces that include surgical equipment.

I actually struggle with this a bit on the blog – some posts fall into the category ‘art’ or ‘design’ and some posts are in both categories, but I don’t lose any sleep over category delineation.

All images from Beccy Ridsdel’s facebook page

artist website here

*update – I just counted and I do have over 46 glasses, but some people would be drinking out of champagne flutes, and others out of plastic cups with strawberries on them…

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