PHOEBE CUMMINGS, WOMEN’S HOUR CRAFT PRIZE

I eventually got to the exhibition of the Women’s Hour Craft Prize at the V&A. I liked the prize piece, Phoebe Cummings’ Triumph of the Immaterial, a construction in unfired clay of beautiful flowers, reminiscent of Dutch flower painting. There is a short video in the exhibition which shows Cummings using historical reference material, so I’m sure that sort of painting was in her mind. This is her description of the work:

“Historically, fountains have stood confidently (and apologetically) as sculpture, design and craft, with little regard for such categorisations. Triumph of the Immaterial is a fountain made from raw clay. It will enact its own performance, eroding and dissolving over time. The work celebrates the endless possibility for clay to be made and un-made, and considers craft skills and the decorative from a contemporary position.”

Every day at noon the fountain is turned on and this exquisite sculpture is gradually eroded. It is not an original idea – there is a similarly self-destructing piece in the V&A’s exhibition of contemporary Korean ceramics – but the delicacy of the object makes the process more poignant here.

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