Claire Curneen – To this I put my name

Page 1

Claire Curneen To this I put my name

Claire Curneen To this I put my name


Introduction 8 by Amanda Roderick and Philip Hughes Claire Curneen


by Audrey Whitty To this I put my name


by Elizabeth Moignard Figuring things out


by Teleri Lloyd-Jones Selected biography


Acknowledgements 48



Introduction by Amanda Roderick and Philip Hughes

In November 2004 Mission Gallery hosted the

of Ferrin Contemporary, in the USA. The Ferrin

Ruthin Craft Centre exhibition ‘Succour’ by

Gallery, established 1979, is internationally

Claire Curneen. Like many of Ruthin Craft

known as a contemporary gallery specialising

Centre’s exhibitions which have toured to

in figural sculpture and studio ceramics.

Mission Gallery, the work took on a new context

The gallery works closely with private collectors,

and meaning in the former church. It was a

institutions and the media as a source for works

memorable show that resonated with its visitors

by both established and emerging artists.

and left them moved; the figure of St Sebastian

Located in the Berkshires of Massachusetts,

in the apse, leaving a powerful lasting image.

it is equidistant from New York City and Boston.

For Mission Gallery, Ruthin Craft Centre and

Leslie Ferrin writes – “In the fall of 2012,

the artist, there was a determination to work

I was invited to dinner and a studio visit with

with each other once again, to revisit,

Claire Curneen in Cardiff, Wales. The evening

develop and grow.

was magical, as I had long admired her works

from afar having only seen her work in private

Nine years later in 2013, following her Arts

Council of Wales’ Creative Wales Ambassador

collections in the USA. Whilst touring Wales,

Award, Claire spent around nine months in

I had seen her sculpture prominently displayed

Mission Gallery’s new studio space. Here she

in the various public collections throughout

began by drawing, researching and reflecting

the country. Knowing that she was preparing

upon its architecture; exploring every crevice

for the New Blue and White exhibition at the

and fabric of the building, while making new

Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, I anticipated

work especially for the space. During this time

seeing that work in progress and others related

she has been incredibly open about the work

to the series. Of course, I saw much more and

she has been developing, providing talks and

the opportunity to talk, visit and share a meal

studio visits, engaging with the gallery’s visitors

allowed me to learn about her recent work, her

and Learning Programme. The work produced

life and see first-hand, the sources of inspiration

during this time, will become a touring exhibition

that inform her art practice. While in her studio,

that will tour to locations in the UK and also the

an image came through on my phone of a

US, made possible through Ruthin Craft Centre

completed work by another noted international

and Mission Gallery’s work with WAI and SOFA

sculptor. I shared it with Claire as I knew

New York.

she would love to see it and moments later

she had pulled a book from her library and

Through this Claire Curneen has enabled

another relationship to develop with Leslie Ferrin

showed me the source material it referenced.

Blue 49 x 15cm, 2013


Blue 49 x 15cm, 2013

Despite the fact that these two artists have

As well as this development of new work and

never met, there are similarities to how they

new connections, it is also the successful

approach their work in the field of illustrated

continuation of a long held relationship between

figural sculpture. Curneen is a master of her

Mission Gallery and Ruthin Craft Centre.

material and at mid-career, at that point in

This has evolved over many years, from being

time, she was poised and ready to use her

a host venue to collaborations within Wales

Creative Wales Ambassador Award as an

and now internationally. These are partnerships

opportunity to produce a complete body

that both venues wish to nurture further and

of work, now on view in her exhibition

build upon; to continue their support of Applied

To this I put my name.”1

Artists in Wales and present their work on an

international platform.

Claire is indeed an Ambassador and not

just for Wales but for sculpture that speaks

The legacy of Claire Curneen’s Creative

profoundly of the human condition. Leslie Ferrin

Wales Ambassador Award, will illustrate once

continues “In the world of figural sculpture by

again that she is not only a leading figure in

artists whose primary medium is clay, Claire

ceramics in the UK but a significant presences

Curneen is clearly a leader in Wales, UK and

in world ceramic art.

Europe. Her painted surface imagery and sculpted forms become united, as the figures are clothed with cloaks of pattern, color or left purposefully spare. The facial expressions, position and gesture reveal a carefully

Amanda Roderick Director Mission Gallery Philip Hughes Director Ruthin Craft Centre

conceived sculpture, controlled and directed by Curneen almost like a choreographer would with a dancer. While there is a sense of anonymity implied by simple facial features, the figures become highly personal, sentimental and emotional through the use of gesture and surfaces. Individuality emerges, as with all art, when the viewer is drawn closer by an implied invitation to associate their own experience and develop a deeper narrative through interpretation and memory.”2

1 Leslie Ferrin 5th November 2013. Leslie Ferrin is Director of Ferrin Contemporary, one of the leading Galleries for figurative ceramics worldwide. She is a valued member of several boards and panels of art museums and major collections in the USA; she curates, wrirtes and lectures worldwide 2 ibid.

overleaf: Portent, 2013



Claire Curneen by Audrey Whitty

Having been a curator since 2001 at the National Museum of Ireland, I had long since heard the hallowed name and knew the work of Claire Curneen. Born and raised in County Kerry, part of Ireland’s south-west, Curneen embodies the success of the Irish diaspora in the visual arts. Although living in the UK, and specifically Wales, for many years, there is still an undeniable Irish context to her work. This was made manifest during Claire Curneen’s recent Arts Council of Wales’ Creative Wales Ambassador Award, 2012–2013. This fellowship involved several research visits to the Collins Barracks site of the National Museum of Ireland; the institution’s decorative arts and history department. The collections there number approx. 500,000 artefacts dating

Chinese celadon and a late Qing Dynasty

from Antiquity to the contemporary with a

Chinese soft-paste grotto. The Yuan Dynasty

focus on the mid-sixteenth century onwards.

piece in particular (and on exhibition) is the

Ceramics is the largest subset of this

renowned Gaignières Fonthill Vase from the

department; an extensive collection from

turn of the 14th century; the earliest piece of

most European and Asian countries involved

documented Chinese porcelain to have arrived

in the shared global history of the discipline.

in Europe, purchased by the then Dublin

When Claire first arrived at Collins Barracks

Science and Art Museum (now the National

in February 2012, it was initially the exhibitions

Museum of Ireland) in 1882 from the Duke of

that drew her focus, and on subsequent visits

Hamilton’s sale. For artists to be drawn to such

we steadily worked through the reserve

a work is not surprising, especially one as

collections, pulling objects out of presses that

accomplished and involved with the ceramic

extricated a sharp draw of breath from Claire,

surface as Claire Curneen. What is also perhaps

or a burst of excitement. These objects ranged

less of a surprise, is the theme of sainthood/

from 17th/18th century Japanese porcelain,

hero iconography that has run through Claire’s

to Irish 19th century Belleek, to Yuan Dynasty

work for several years, brought magnificently to


above: Untitled, pencil and watercolour on paper, 2012

41 x 33cm, 2013



House 43 x 44cm, 2013

fruition in such figures as St Sebastian,

convergence of Renaissance art history and

Guardian, Stick, Threads and Book of Hours.

ceramics history in Claire’s masterful works,

The high point of Irish art is generally accepted

I would also add to this hypothesis the

as the so-called early Christian period (fifth to

legacy of the Irish early Christian/medieval

twelfth centuries AD) when the three diverse yet

archaeological record. No matter what impulse

convergent strands of metalwork, manuscript

informs the work, however, one tenet of truth

illumination and stone sculpture attained a

is over-riding in relation to Claire Curneen’s

level of sophistication in style, technique and

oeuvre, and that is its element of towering

form found in no other part of the European

prowess in presence, meaning and impact.

continent. One such aspect of metalwork

No other sculptor (whatever the medium

production was the reliquary as the

employed) comes close to this relationship

embodiment of the cult of saints’ relics

between artist and onlooker.

then sweeping across the European Christian populace. Ireland’s contribution to this theme is seen in such masterpieces as the Moylough Belt Shrine (eighth century), St. Patrick’s Bell Shrine (twelfth century), the Shrine of St. Lachtin’s Arm (twelfth century), Fiacail

Audrey Whitty Dr Audrey Whitty is Curator of European and Asian Glass, The Corning Museum of Glass, New York. Formerly Curator of Ceramics, Glass and Asian collections, National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin.

Pádraig (twelfth century with fourteenth century alterations), and so on. These artefacts whether overt or subconscious are part of the Irish material cultural heritage, and may have influenced Claire Curneen from a young age. Laura Gray speaks in her essay of the 1

1 Unpublished essay by Laura Gray, formerly Curator at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston.

above: Fonthill Vase and Japanese Blue and White Vase, pencil on paper, 2012



To this I put my name by Elizabeth Moignard

Last spring, on a visit to Ruthin for quite another purpose, I was led into a storage space and shown a large tea-chest full of packing stuffing, with a head sticking out of it. I rather think that this abrupt introduction was intentional, and I recognise that the impact was immediate. On further reflection, I notice that I was reacting to an object I recognised in terms of its idiom, but also to something I read as a substantial referential shift at least partially induced by an unexpected colour and surface. This was reinforced a bit later on a visit to the Ruthin Craft Centre stand at Collect: the structure and set of the head and face were instantly and visibly those of a Claire Curneen sculpture, their rendering in a deep matte terracotta or an intense black, rather than the familiar white, gave the pieces an instant association with the ancient figurative Greek pottery and terracottas of my professional specialism, and the colours alone moved the focus from saints to heroes, and to thoughts about their iconography and its links with Claire’s.

Builders 76 x 51cm, 2013

Standing Figure 70 x 20cm, 2012


Cut To The Quick 58 x 20cm, 2013

For the student of classical Greek material, graphic or three-dimensional, a key element will always be the figure’s head and face. Among the numerous typological and developmental indicators, an important strand is the movement from gesture to facial expression as a key to emotional and narrative content: we start with what we perceive to be stylised faces, with a strong emphasis on the eye area, and sharp facial contours which will be highlighted and shadowed by natural light if the face is that of a statue. The statue is usually designed to be seen from the front, and often, if it represents a god or a hero, from below. If it appears as a drawing on a vase, the face will usually be in profile, with a full-face eye. Early statues often have a slight lifting of the corners of the mouth to suggest animation, if not quite a smile. Over time, the features become more naturalistic, but retain a marked symmetry; the eye in a graphic face becomes a profile eye, and we eventually see convincing suggestions of three-quarter and then frontal faces. It takes much longer for faces in either medium to acquire anything recognisable to us as an interpretable and reactive expression, and when there is one, it often goes with a baroque physique and extreme body language, and often on a figure which is part of a narrative group.


Rain 38 x 33cm, 2013

It would be easy to take this as a denial

a secondary figure, or both. The Irene tending

of any serious emotional content in ancient

St Sebastian group of 2008 dips the saint’s

Greek art, and especially in our reaction to

head and directs his gaze towards his helper,

single figures. We would be wrong – even the

who tilts her head and puts out a tentative

most stylised approaches to visual storytelling,

hand to his, leading our gaze around hands

by modern standards, can be deeply moving

and wounds rather than the faces. An earlier

and thought-provoking images. The archaic

version of 2003, showing Sebastian alone,

painter Exekias, working in black-figure, and

focuses our attention on the saint’s pained

therefore in flat silhouette, gave us one of the

body, with little gold dribbles of blood in parallel

most devastating pictures of his era, of Ajax

with the long lines of his torso and legs.

preparing for an honour-preserving suicide,

Catherine and her Wheel, also 2003, does

all the more effective in its bleak use of a

rather the same in directing attention to her

profile view, allowing for the hero’s hunched

wheel and the long cuts on her body. I certainly

body and distressed face to do their work,

read this as way of voicing Claire’s interest in

alone with his sword, his sightless helmet,

self-denial and self-sacrifice, self-reliance,

and a wilting palm tree.

emotional containment, even self-imposed

anonymity – the saint’s or hero’s persistence in

I am obviously not alone in associating

Claire Curneen with intense explorations of

moving past their personal pain and need to a

human responsibility, self-denial and sacrifice

responsibility for others. There is also, as others

in ceramic sculptures with a tactile quality

have suggested, a sense that they have come

which makes them sensual, often in apparent

out on the other side of their ordeal, and are

contradiction of the core theme of the piece.

demonstrating survival, the value of their

The head and face, interestingly, are often

suffering as indicated by the gilt blood,

not the most individual feature: the head I

and the capacity to look away from it.

saw in the packing case had the instantly

recognisable rounded skull, with the features

at least to me, is the nudity of the figures;

concentrated, even squeezed, into the lower

Claire’s saints, male and female, are naked,

front quartile, focussing on a small, slightly open

and to the contemporary eye that probably

mouth, and flat dark eyes. There is certainly

spells another vulnerability which has been

a facial expression, but one which directs

overcome despite the very human weakness

attention to the body of the figure, its stance,

implied. Ancient Greek heroes, or at any rate

gesture and relationship with the viewer, or with

male ones, wear their nudity virtually as a

The other obvious link with ancient imagery,


Strange Fire


(detail) 70 x 22cm, 2013


uniform or a defensive gesture – an extension

Ancient Greek heroines, unlike most of Claire’s,

of a citizen role as a competitive athlete into

are usually victims, often of divine pursuit or

another one as part of the army. Some acquire

manipulation, rather than powerful figures who

protective equipment in the course of their trials:

are punished for asserting truths. They often

Herakles defeats the Lion by wrestling with it

survive it at great cost. Some of Claire’s

and finally throttling it because it is invulnerable

previous work makes an uneasy link between

to cutting weapons; he skins it with one of its

the human and the vegetable, and floral

own claws, and then uses the skin tied over

textures or trees appear in disconcerting places,

his shoulders by the front paws as a protective

not least the Heart of 2003, a physiologically

measure against missiles, and as an identifying

accurate vessel with burgeoning buds on its

label. He usually remains otherwise unclothed

surface. Feast, disconcertingly, is an ecstatic

right to the end, and finally appears on

head and shoulders emerging from a shroud

Olympus at his apotheosis party dressed in

of roses. One driver of these is clearly Claire’s

a very fancy cloak for the first time. Claire’s

fascination with rich and ancient surface

survivors display the signs of the suffering

textures: when we last met she showed me

they have overcome instead, though often

images of the Fonthill Vase, now in the National

as rich gold or blue and white drops: indicators

Museum of Ireland, an ancient Chinese

of value. Guardian goes further, and carries

porcelain vessel with a long history of European

the blue and white flowers with gilt details

adaptation, which has surface panels of relief

all over the body, veiling the face.

flowers. We might see a natural progression


Strange Fire 70 x 22cm, 2013

here to the motif of humans turning into plants: during a visit to the Ashmolean, a favourite stamping ground for both of us, Claire and I shared a legend which turned out to be a marker for both of us too: Daphne, who was pursued by Apollo, and turned into a laurel tree to evade him. My mother made me a silver and gold pendant showing the moment of transformation as a present for surviving a major university examination; Claire’s Portent figure, as I read it, reflects on the story and its implications with questions about the heroine’s preservation or failure. The defence may itself be lethal; the branches around the head are both a fence and a burden. Where the female saints have come out of their sacrifice, this figure has only just begun the experience. And this may be an indicator of the next move in Claire’s thinking; saints and heroes occupy parallel and inter-permeable universes, but the distinction may be precisely that the importance of the hero is the nature of his or her experience and reaction to it in life, where that of the saint is the transformation from sufferer to an icon of survival. Elizabeth Moignard Dr Elizabeth Moignard is Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology at the University of Glasgow. Her latest book Master of Attic Black Figure Painting: The Art and Legacy of Exekias is due to be published by Tauris, in Summer 2014, as part of the Library of Classical Studies series.

above: Drawing, pencil on paper, 2013




Figuring things out by Teleri Lloyd-Jones

That … be not told of my death,

An artist of vision and narrative whose work

Or made to grieve on account of me,

offers us, among many others things, a world

And that I be not buried in consecrated ground,

filled with stories and their own sorrows.

And that no sexton be asked to toll the bell,

And that nobody is wished to see my dead body,

of the house she shares with her husband

And that no mourners walk behind me

and their daughter, we are met by the new

at my funeral,

figures that make up To this I put my name.

And that no flowers be planted on my grave,

In front of the garden doors lies a recumbent,

And that no man remember me,

near-floating black figure encrusted with

To this I put my name.

Curneen’s signature branch-like protuberances.

The Mayor of Casterbridge, 1886. Thomas Hardy

Having arrived in her studio, an annexe

Each cut end appears to bleed with that well-worn combination of white and blue glaze. With every turn, one is met by another set of

As we drove to her studio from Cardiff station

eyes, another face, another figure – a porcelain

Claire Curneen told me a story that I haven’t

St Sebastian, a duo in black clay so matt

been able to shake from my mind. We went

and dark they absorb the surrounding light,

past a row of rather forlorn semi-detached

a bird of prey, a series of torsos and Mary

houses, one of which had been her home

Magdalene shrouded in hair.

when she was a student at the university.

The landlord’s goat lived at the bottom of

a Creative Wales Ambassador Award, given

the garden. An unorthodox arrangement no

by Arts Council Wales. Curneen was tasked

doubt, but nonetheless the students became

with making a cultural connection between

attached to the animal. One morning,

an institution overseas and a Welsh host,

Curneen woke to find the goat had hung

so she returned to her native Ireland. Based at

itself upon the clothes’ line.

Dublin’s National Museum of Ireland, Curneen

spent time behind the scenes in the hands of

It’s a tale that the artist tells with

This new body of work is the result of

understandable disbelief that such a surreal,

curator Audrey Whitty, she began investigating

shocking episode could happen to anyone.

the collection.

But it suits her. It’s unreal, mythic, bizarre

and filled with pathos. Since her time in that

a range of pieces from the Corleck Head or

particular house, Curneen has become one

a small majolica dish to the Yang Dynasty

of the foremost ceramists of her generation.

Fonthill Vase via a piece of Belleek porcelain.

Claire’s studio, 2013

Following her curiosities, she alighted on


Drawing studio, Mission Gallery 2012–2013

There is breadth here, they aren’t all ceramic

more specifically the old Mary, with hair grown

let alone porcelain. Looking across the selection

down to the ground. A woman turned animal

now, the artist picks out two particular strands

and forlorn. Curneen recalls the impact of

that she was drawn to: firstly, the travelled

seeing Donatello’s version in the Museo

object and secondly, the construction. As a

dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence (a piece

maker (and teacher), she has no patience for

that she remembers as ceramic, but is in

sloppy work but is attracted to objects that

fact wooden – as though clay is her default

betray their making, especially any trace of

material). The vision of Mary, in this hirsute

an accidental movement. The fingerprint left in

state is wild and lost, and entirely compelling.

a press-moulded dish. A Belleek photograph

‘Her hair is what clothes her. She’s wretched

frame Curneen diplomatically describes in

– it’s quite horrific, there’s a real horror about

decorative terms ‘going further than you really

her. Her teeth are knocked out so beware,

need to’ whose reverse reveals that wonderful

beware!’ Curneen warns with a giggle and a

expedience of the anonymous worker who

glint in her eye. What she finds arresting is not

made it. The slipping of pattern on a surface

necessarily the horror of Mary’s state but the

or the gloop of a glaze. ‘If it’s not quite right,

transformation that Mary goes through from

that’s what I like about it’, she says.

beauty to this image of worn penance, it’s just

one of the many metamorphoses Curneen

Although the Dublin’s National Museum

collection was used as a starting point, don’t

finds delight in. The texture of Mary’s hair

expect Curneen’s own version of the Corleck

was inspired by the effect of a knife scraping

Head anytime soon. Instead we are treated

across the surface of butter, a reminder how

to the ceramist’s unerring fascination with

profundity and everyday sit side by side in

material, its ability to transform, to acquiesce

the life of an artist.

and confound in equal measure. In fact as she

explains, her work ‘talks about that language

a symbol of the lesser sex and in the past,

of things being not quite what they are, one

her work has attracted the gender politics

thing being another’ in both subject as well

moniker. It’s a link that she rebuffed in her

as material. Her figures bleed and weep just

youth but now has become more accepting

as her glazes slip and drip. Quite impossibly,

of others’ interpretations: ‘It’s not something

solid gives way to liquid.

I seek out but I suppose as a woman I tend

to see the world through my eyes rather than

One of her major pieces in this series is

Mary Magdalene. Not young and beautiful but

Curneen is, of course, aware of Mary as

‘I’m a female artist’. I don’t think like that.



But they are just there as a way to talk about

monochrome photographs emphasise the

what I do as an artist. Figuring things out,

crackles and crevasses of surface, presenting

what is it we’re doing?’

a texture rather than image.

Looking across the walls of her studio offers

As with most ceramics, surface is the

a window into her interests. Mixed in with the

foremost experience in Curneen’s work from

artist’s own sketches, made during her six

her fingerprints left after persuading a form into

month residency at Mission Gallery, I find an

shape to her laboured coverings of branches,

Archimbaldo portrait of a man made up entirely

hair and intense decals. For To this I put my name

of flowers, Peter Finnemore’s photography,

the process of binding with thread is another

Luca della Robbia’s terracotta swaddled babes

surface to explore. There are hands and branches

from the Ospedale degli Innocenti, St Francis

bundled together with golden hair (fake extensions

Preaching to the Birds by Giotto and Piero

bought from Cardiff Market, a gorgeous meeting

della Francesca’s famous Baptism of Christ

of supposed high and low materials). More than

(a painting she goes back to time and again).

that, Blanket, a recumbent figure with intense

One of the most noticeable aspects of this wall

gilded florals, has been bound across the face,

of images, apart from its Renaissance leaning,

hands, torso and full extent of the legs.

is that the majority are reproduced in black and

‘It’s restricted but in a kind act, bandaged’,

white. Curneen attributes this to the foibles of

Curneen says. What had been a figure is now

her printer as well her penchant for cutting

entombed, unidentifiable but at the same time

old books but there’s a side effect in that

made beautiful by its new surface and form.


The bindings of thread, given to her by friend

With a family in – and out of – the church

and textile artist Alice Kettle, are so dense it

and educated by nuns herself, Curneen’s

seems perverse to choose such a time-

upbringing was infused with religion and yet

consuming method to cover up a surface that

she describes herself as ‘not religious, a failed

itself has taken time to produce. ‘Maybe it’s

Catholic’ who is drawn to the culture of religion.

a penitent Catholic thing, covering something

And so is it the language of religion that we find

again and again, not thinking about what it is

in her work and not religion itself? Her borrowed

you’re creating, the work is just happening.

stories of St Sebastian or Mary are part of an

You hide the evidence of what you’ve done

artistic tradition, explorations of the human

but beneath it, it must be good, well modelled.’

condition but not purveyors of an ideology.

Curneen’s work offers us a precious liminal

While making these pieces, the idea of the

Mission Gallery is never too far from Curneen’s

space of contemplation, like an altar or an

thoughts. The old seaman’s church, the apse

icon but crucially, if there is devotion here,

– it’s a context that she considers perfect.

it is to humanity and creativity.

Religious stories often form the subject of the

work, the saints, Mary Magdalene, but one

isn’t always solemn. It is true there are plenty of

wonders if, like gender, it’s a distraction from

big ideas: faith, love, guilt, death, however, there

the real subject, universal emotion. Curneen’s

is lightness too – a glance at her choice of titles

uncle was a priest, her aunt was a nun

would confirm this. Looking at an overtly

and her father, in her words, ‘hates it all’.

decorated St Sebastian, there is a coquettish

It pays to be reminded that Curneen’s work

above: Blanket (detail), 58 x 31cm, 2013 above left: Mary Magdalene (detail), 57 x 19cm, 2013


stance not to mention the floral surface. ‘It is’

change. Her figures blossom, bleed and beckon

I start to say, apprehensively ‘…a little camp?’

but when we are alone with them, they reflect

‘Camp is good’ she replies quickly. That her

back on us. We find in them, what we bring

figures can contain these seeming contradictions

to them, a process that is just as complex for

of tone is satisfying. A portrait of Muhammed Ali

Curneen to wrangle: ‘maybe it’s my downfall

by Annie Leibowitz comes to Curneen’s mind,

sometimes, I can’t whittle off what it is that I do.

‘it’s the most erotic image of a man. He’s

I couldn’t pinpoint why I do things – what’s the

perfection. But it’s so camp and homoerotic.

point then? You may as well give up, because

I love all that. The Catholic Church is loaded

then it can’t move, it can’t shift.’ And so we find

with eroticism. I mean, the Ecstasy of St

transformation at the centre of everything here:

Theresa?!’ Looking back at her most recent

material, narrative and artist.

St Sebastian she pauses, ‘he’s quite different from the others I’ve made. They’re contemplative but he’s in a state of… liking himself.’

Claire Curneen doesn’t make life easy

for herself. With her encrusted surfaces and bound figures her work takes time, it requires repetition and monotony. As her clay becomes ceramic, as her glaze melts and fuses so

Teleri Lloyd-Jones Teleri Lloyd-Jones is assistant Editor of Crafts magazine and writes extensively on the applied arts. Her acclaimed book David Mellor: Design – an introduction to the designer, his works and his importance within the British design landscape, post 1950, was published Antique Collectors’ Club 30 Sep 2009.

too her stories speak of transformation and

above left: untitled, pencil and ink on paper, 2010 above right: Blue, pencil and ink on paper, 2012

Over my dead body (St Sebastian) 75 x 23cm, 2013



Selected biography

Born 1968 Ireland Education 1986–90 1990–91 1991–92

Crawford College of Art & Design, Cork Diploma in Art and Design (Ceramics) Postgraduate Diploma In Applied Arts University of Ulster, Belfast MA Ceramics, University of Wales Institute Cardiff

Exhibitions Include 1996 Philip Eglin and Claire Curneen, Contemporary Applied Arts, London 1997 New Work, Claire Curneen, Ruthin Craft Centre, (solo, tour, catalogue). Oriel 31, Newtown, Powys Model House, Llantrisant Cleveland Craft Centre, Middlesbrough mac Birmingham The City Gallery, Leicester 1998 Ceramic Series/Claire Curneen, Aberystwyth Arts Centre (catalogue). 2000 ‘New Masters, Old Masters’, Oxford Gallery, Oxford ‘Firing Imagination’, British Council Exhibition, Sao Paulo, Brazil (catalogue) ‘Made at the Clay Studio’, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, USA 2001 Figurative Ceramics, Crafts Council shop at the V&A, London 2002 Claire Curneen and Heather Belcher, CAA, London SOFA Chicago, USA

2003 ‘Flower Power’, Norfolk Museum & Archaeology Service and Sheffield Galleries & Museum Trust, (catalogue) ‘Telltale; narratives in contemporary craft’, Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead (catalogue). ‘augenblicken’ Kunstforum Kirchberg, Switzerland 2004 ‘Succour’ – Claire Curneen, Ruthin Craft Centre, (solo, tour, catalogue) ‘Faith’ Nottingham Castle Museum (catalogue) ‘Collect’ at the V&A, represented by CAA London SOFA Chicago, represented by CLAY, LA. 2005 Showcase at Manchester Art Gallery (DVD, catalogue and slide set) The International Art & Design Fair, New York, represented by Adrian Sassoon 2006 ‘Collect’ at the V&A, Ruthin Craft Centre ‘One Piece one Artist’ Galerie Marianne Heller, Germany ‘Narratives’ Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea. ‘Collecting Contemporary Ceramics’ Ruthin Craft Centre ‘The Human Condition’, the Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh ‘Figurative Ceramics’ Cervini Haas Gallery, Scottsdale, USA 2007 ‘Secondary Relics’ Blackswan Gallery, Frome ‘menschenbild’ Galerie Kunstforum Solothurn, Switzerland 2008 ‘Myths and Legends’, Contemporary Applied Arts, London ‘Claire Curneen’ Ruthin Craft Centre, (solo, catalogue) 2009 British Ceramics. Bavarian Crafts Council, Germany ‘Otherworldly Messages’, Galerie Marianne Heller, Germany ‘Collect’ Saatchi Galleries, CAA, London 2010 ‘Pretty young Things’ Lacoste Gallery, Boston, USA ‘Claire Curneen and Olivia Chargue’, Le Don du Fel, France ‘Passage’ Craft in the Bay, Cardiff

Bird Figure 60 x 18cm, 2013



‘Parings’ collaboration with textile designer Alison Welsh, MMU Manchester Contemporary British Studio Ceramics, The Grainer Collection, Mint Museum, Charlotte, USA 2011 Beaux Arts, Bath (solo) ‘Placement’ Ceramic Connections Wales/ Scotland, Oriel Davies, Mid Wales 2011 ‘Lost Certainty’ Claire Curneen and Alice Kettle, CAA, London ‘3x2’, The Shed, Galway, Ireland 2012 ‘Never Never’ Aberystwyth Arts Centre ‘Reflection’ Galerie Kunstforum Solothurn, Switzerland New World: Timeless Vision IAC exhibition, New Mexico Museum of Art, USA ‘When I Woke’ Llantarnam Grange Arts. Centre (curator, with catalogue) IAC members exhibition, New World: Timeless Vision, Santa Fe, USA 2013 ‘New Blue and White’ Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA Claire Curneen, La Ferme de la Chapelle, Switzerland 2014 ‘To This I Put My Name’ Mission Gallery, Swansea and Ruthin Craft Centre (solo, tour, catalogue) New York Ceramics Fair, Ferrin Gallery ‘Collect’ Saatchi Galleries, Ruthin Craft Centre Residencies 2000 Crawford Arts Centre, St. Andrews, Scotland 2000 The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, USA Awards and competitions 1995 Crafts Council Setting up Grant. 1999 Ceramics Monthly Magazine USA – Winner of the sculpture category 2001 Selected for the 52nd International Competition for Contemporary Ceramic Art, Faenza, Italy 2001 Le Prix de I’AMN 2001 National Eisteddfod of Wales, Gold Medal in Craft & Design 2003 Selected for World Ceramic Biennale 2003 Korea International Competition

2003 Shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Award for Ceramics 2004 Selected for 1st European Ceramics Competition, Greece 2005 Selected for 3rd World Ceramic Biennale, Korea International Competition 2005 Creative Wales Award, Arts Council of Wales 2008 Taiwan International Ceramics Biennale Competition, Taipei Ceramic Museum 2012 Creative Wales Ambassador Award ‘The Museum Object as a point of Reference’ 2012/13 Public collections Ulster Museum, Belfast Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork Crafts Council, London Limerick City Art Gallery, Limerick National Museums and Galleries of Wales, Cardiff Victoria and Albert Museum, London Shipley Art Gallery, Tyne & Wear Museums, Gateshead Sara and David Lieberman Collection, Arizona State University, USA Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece Aberystwyth Arts Centre Cleveland Crafts Centre, Middlesbrough Icheon World Ceramic Centre, Korea National Museum of Scotland Oldham Museum, Manchester York Museum, England Taipei Ceramics Museum, Taiwan Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art Mint Museum, Charlotte, Carolina, USA Kennedy Museum of Art, USA Periodicals include Ceramic Monthly, International Competition, 1999 Ceramics Art and Perception, issue 38 1999 ‘Searching for Answers’ by Sarah James Ceramic Review, issue 195, 2002 ‘A melancholy Beauty’ by Nicholas Lees Kerameiki Techni, issue 42, 2002 ‘The Role of Narrative in Claire Curneen’s Ceramics’ by Natasha Mayo


Keramik Magazin, issue 4, 2003 ‘Contemplation’ by Ian Wilson New Ceramics, issue 5, 2005, profile on Claire Curneen by Amanda Fielding (German & English) Ceramics Arts and Perception, article by Alex McErlain, issue 62, 2005/2006 Ceramics Arts and Perception, review of ‘Pretty Young Things’ Lacoste Gallery, Massachusetts by Christine Temin 2011 Boston Globe, ‘New Blue and White’ at the MFA, March 2013 Books ‘The Figure in Fired Clay’ by Betty Blandino, A&C Black Ltd, 2001 ‘The Human Form in Clay’ by Jane Waller, Crowood Press Ltd, 2001 ‘Ceramic Figures’ by Michael Flynn, A&C Black Ltd, 2002 500 Figures in Clay, Lark Books, USA, 2004 World Famous Ceramic Artist Studios, (volume 1 Europe) by Bai Ming ‘Confrontational Ceramics’ by J. Schwartz, USA. ‘Masters in Porcelain’ Lark Books, USA ‘Breaking the Mould’ Black Dog Publishing, UK ‘Contemporary Ceramics – A Global Survey of Trends and Traditions’ Emmanuel Cooper, Thames and Hudson ‘Modern British Studio Ceramics and their studios’, David Whiting, Photography Jay Goldmark, 2009 ‘Ghost Trawler’ by Micheal Fanning, A poetry book. The publication is a collaboration between artists and the poet. Published by Sommerville Press, Ireland, 2010 ‘Pairings’, monologues & dialogues’ MMU, 2010 ‘Contemporary British Studio Ceramics’ Yale Unversity Press, New Haven and London with the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, North Carolina, USA Ceramics, tools and techniques for the contemporary maker, by Louisa Taylor, 2011 IAC members exhibition, New World: Timeless Vision, Santa Fe, USA, 2012 Ceramics and The Human Figure by Edith Garcia

Professional memberships include Selected Makers slide index, Crafts Council, London Contemporary Applied Arts, London International Academy of Ceramics, Geneva Television and Radio ‘Kaleidoscope’ BBC Radio 4, 1997, review of Ruthin exhibition by Emmanuel Cooper ‘The Art’ BBC 2, short film of artist at work Lecturing Senior Lecturer, Centre for Ceramic Studies, Cardiff Metropolitan University



Mission Gallery and Ruthin Craft Centre would like to thank: Claire Curneen; Elizabeth Moignard, Teleri Lloyd-Jones, Lesley Ferrin, Audrey Whitty; Dewi Tannatt Lloyd, Lisa Rostron, Rachel Shaw, Stephen Heaton at Lawn; Andrew Renton, Hannah Kelly, Alan Moss, Keith Bayliss, Nia Roberts, Gregory Parsons, Pete Goodridge; Louise Wright, Nathalie Camus, Catherine Roche, Iolo Wyn Williams, the Arts Council of Wales. Claire Curneen would especially like to thank: Alun Davies, Esther Davies, Johnny Curneen; Elizabeth Moignard, Teleri Lloyd-Jones, Lesley Ferrin, Audrey Whitty and National Museum of Ireland; Catherine Roche; Amanda Roderick, Deirdre Finnerty and Mission Gallery; Philip Hughes, Jane Gerrard and Ruthin Craft Centre; Dewi Tannatt Lloyd, Lisa Rostron and Lawn; Alan Moss, Matthew Thompson, Andrew Renton, Anne Gibbs, Ingrid Murphy, Robert Stockley, Sarah Worgan, Centre for Ceramics Studies Cardiff Metropolitan University, Lowri Davies and Carwyn Evans; the Arts Council of Wales. Commissioning: Philip Hughes and Amanda Roderick Photography: Dewi Tannatt Lloyd Translation: Nia Roberts Design: Lawn Creative, Liverpool Print: Kingsbury Press

p1: Catalogue of Ancient Play Things, (detail), 40 x 10cm, 2013 below: Catalogue of Ancient Play Things, (detail), 23 x 13cm, 2013 cover: Blue, 49 x 15cm, 2013 back cover: Head, watercolour on paper, 2012

Mission Gallery

Published by: Ruthin Craft Centre in collaboration with Mission Gallery. Text Š The Authors 2014 ISBN 978-1-905865-64-2 Ruthin Craft Centre, The Centre for the Applied Arts Park Road, Ruthin, Denbighshire LL15 1BB Tel: +44 (0)1824 704774 Mission Gallery, Gloucester Place Maritime Quarter, Swansea SA1 1TY Tel: +44 (0)1792 652016 To this I put my name is a Ruthin Craft Centre and Mission Gallery Touring Exhibition.

Ruthin Craft Centre is revenue funded by the Arts Council of Wales and is part of Denbighshire County Council. Mission Gallery is a company Limited by Guarantee no: 06467843 and is supported by the Arts Council of Wales. This publication is also available in Welsh. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form without written permission from the publishers.

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