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CLAUDI CASANOVAS Quart Minvant


C L AU D I C A SA N OVA S Quart Minvant


An exhibition of six new works by Claudi Casanovas

Private View Tuesday, 11 July 2017, 6-8pm Artist present Fitzrovia Chapel 2 Pearson Square London W1T 3BF Exhibition continues 11 - 23 July Daily, 11am - 4pm For more information: erskinehallcoe.com +44 (0) 20 7491 1706 mail@erskinehallcoe.com


Cimal (Treetop), 2017 stoneware, 100 x 100 x 50 cm (CC-0056)


Serposa (Snaky), 2017 stoneware, 75 x 120 x 45 cm (CC-0057)


Nimfa (Nymph), 2017 stoneware, 85 x 90 x 50 cm (CC-0058)


Collaret (Necklace), 2017 stoneware, 80 x 110 x 46 cm (CC-0059)


Caluix de Bruc (Branch of Heather), 2017 stoneware, 68 x 110 x 50 cm (CC-0060)


Pop (Octopus), 2017 stoneware, 62 x 116 x 52 cm (CC-0061)


CLAUDI C ASANOVAS Quart Minvant

Private View Tuesday, 11 July 2017, 6-8pm Artist present Fitzrovia Chapel 2 Pearson Square London W1T 3BF

Exhibition continues 11 – 23 July Daily, 11am – 4pm For more information: erskinehallcoe.com +44 (0) 20 7491 1706 mail@erskinehallcoe.com

CERAMICS + MODERN ART

Erskine, Hall & Coe


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Quart Minvant The Lunar Cycle

The series on the lunar cycle began with Lluna Nova (New Moon), which is made up of perfectly polished spheroid and ovoid pieces, to which I have applied a new technical treatment. These pieces bear the names of Black Virgins, alluding to the promise of fertility. As for the production of the second series, Quart Creixent (Crescent Moon), I worked with vertical and imperfect pieces, inspired by the figure of Dionysius, which refers to an emergent perennial and renewing force. In Lluna Plena (Full Moon), on the other hand, I wanted to make a change in the size of the pieces, so I made a set of large sculptures, which were placed in an open space. Most of the pieces are black, but some have variations, which range from ochre to white, and also contain motifs in low relief. Finally, the current series titled Quart Minvant (Waning Crescent), consists of six pieces. I am exploring the notion of emptiness. I am seeking to participate within emptiness. The pieces, which contain the form of an arch, refer to a metaphorical journey, a moment in balance, which ultimately alludes to life: life in its final evanescence and its promise of completeness. Claudi Casanovas, 2017


The Mystery of Earth and of Fire

clever way of finding his way back from an inextricable place. Claudi was following the trail of a future creation...

“I set to boil in my pot all that is chance. And until it is cooked and ready, I do not welcome it as my nourishment. And, in fact, many a chance came imperiously to me, but my will spoke even more imperiously, and now I had it kneeling before me and imploring - it implored me to make room and take it in, and it spoke to me in a fawning way: “Understand this, Zarathustra, there is only one friend who comes thus to the house of a friend.”

It was a fertile time, a youthful moment in which we were all finding our way.The paths were not well marked, and we were aware of that. There were many ways to go, some of them dead ends. And in interminable discussions with enthusiastic friends we asked lots of questions: What was ceramics for? What could explain this affection for an ancient and weighty history influenced by so many parameters, in which so many intersecting and self-cancelling factors often conspire to leave you powerless, exhausted after a firing, but nevertheless attracted once again, bewitched by the distant mirage of new possibilities?

F. Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, III, 5-3

I had recently set up my ceramics studio in La Roca d’Albera, in northern Catalonia, when I received a surprise invitation from Claudi to show my work at the Coure Cooperative, in Olot. I hesitated, because I didn’t speak Catalan. At the time I couldn’t begin to imagine the profound influence that his proposal would have on my personal searches and, therefore, on my life. It’s kind of hard for me to talk about someone who has become a point of reference, a friend, without giving a little background, though I’ll do so only to the extent that it casts light on Claudi’s evolution. I met him in his studio, in a state of profound meditation before his still-warm kiln, patiently studying the textures of various little cubes of different rocks from the area, scattered around among many clay jars made for an advertising commission. I wondered for a moment what all those stones were doing lying in a forest of flasks. They reminded me of Tom Thumb’s

Our professional relationship was cemented during the famous seminars in Olot called Japan Summer 86. Guided by his brilliant intuition, Claudi — with the help of his friends in the Cooperative — managed to invite seven famous Japanese ceramicists to Catalonia. Out of this came mutual discoveries, fruitful exchanges, and new and endless discussions among the participants. We were, of course, inspired by the methods used by the Japanese. For example, Satoru Hoshino was coating pieces of nickel-chrome screen in clay. I, on the other hand, was trying to liberate fire from the prison of the kilns, but clay that was too thick couldn’t stand up to the extreme treatment of exposure to the violent thermic pressure of my burners. With his use of metal filaments and thin layers of clay, Satoru Hoshino showed me a possible way forward. He explained that this technique came directly from Japanese peasants, who made windbreaks of woven cane coated with


clay to protect their crops, and he told me that I was free to adapt this technique as I chose. For me, this was a revelation that influenced all of my subsequent work. And others, too, were inspired in their turn. After this, we had invitations from many cultural organizations along with ceramicists from other countries. I met up with Claudi several other times, at various symposia. I have good memories of Alcobaça, in Portugal, of the enormous ceramics factory made available for us to use as we wished for two weeks. Deserted, it was stunningly quiet. A product that had failed to adapt had sealed its fate, but everything was still perfectly functional: the brushes in the paint pots, the plaster molds ranged on the shelves, and some kilns, carefully set up, appeared to await the improbable return of the operators. The workers, now unemployed, had left the building.The game was over. Like artists, though in different — and no doubt equally complex — circumstances, these companies have to evolve continually in order to survive. This is the price of moving forward, of opening new paths in synch with one’s own sensibilities: you cannot discover new horizons without accepting that familiar shores will be lost to view. In this regard, I remember an observation of Claudi’s (La revue de la céramique et du verre, no. 60): “It is certainly difficult to achieve inner peace when you decide to pursue research on ceramics. Everything is expensive: the kilns, the machines, the fuel needed for every step in the process, the work space, and also all the things that break, the time needed for reflection, the false leads that have to be followed up in order to reach the goal. If, on top of all this, your studio is full of

unsold pieces that you’ve been unable to distribute to vendors, even the most resolute of us is bound to be discouraged. This is why I want to stress here the importance of real galleries, the ones that don’t just mount a show once in a while without a catalog, without taking the steps required to engage the public. Without the Galerie Besson, for example, I don’t know if my work would be, now, in the place where it is.” One of the driving forces behind Claudi’s work is his attachment to the volcanic region of Olot. Immersing himself in the geology of that place and tirelessly observing the fusion of lavas, the erosion of rocks and their many breaks and fractures, he has slowly created a vocabulary that is directly related to the mineral reality of his country. I have always been impressed by his ability to recreate, through his use of various clays and the power of fire, the slow or violent geological maturation of the rocks that surround us. His exploded blocks of clay with surfaces that are corrugated or, on the contrary, smooth, worn down by infinite and inexorable erosions, always seem authentic. “The artist is he who shows us a place in the world by pointing his finger at it” (J.M. Gustave le Clézio). To achieve such a result, it is important to liberate the elements so that they can express themselves. Paying close attention to materials is an alchemical approach that requires the courage to take into account the complexity of the world that surrounds us and the reality of the randomness of our lives. In 1999, Claudi wrote in La revue de la céramique et du verre: “As I search, I play with chance. We’re all the children of an unforeseen and unforseeable world. To reject this idea is almost as if chance were refusing to accept itself! This is why


by the rationalized works of ceramicists and sculptors who are intent on producing very pure lines, perfectly geometrical forms. It seems to me that this vehement confirmation of the inexistence of chance produces, in contrast, totally gratuitous works.” In this sense, we might compare Claudi Casanovas’ approach with that of John Cage, one of the precursors, in the world of music, of taking randomness into account.

vibration of the works displayed. Claudi had hidden the fire concentrated and preserved within his stones and I, for my part, transformed the same fire, in the present, into sounds.

Sometimes we have been in the same places, we have dealt with the same elements, a few years apart. For example, in Savitaipale, a small town in Finland, I had mounted, in the middle of winter, a performance of the opposition between fire and ice, with the participation of children and old people, and the contribution of a nude dancer emerging from a sauna, to create a nighttime spectacle. At a later time, Claudi paralyzed this same venue with the absolute immobility of multiple ladders planted in the ice of the lake, raised to the sky, perhaps awaiting an inexorable thaw.

His circular Blanques, like a kind of records, seemed to me to be destined to conserve the vibration of ancient Greek songs. By turning them, I imagined that I could hear the song of the sirens and the mysterious voice of Ulysses! In this way, the waking dream of Georges Sharpak, a physicist who won the Nobel Prize for physics, took shape: he had imagined turning an amphora at exactly the same velocity as in the moment it was made. According to him, the hands of the potter, the receptacle of the vibrations of the ambient air of the studio, would have engraved into the clay all of the sounds, the discussions, the possible songs of the potters or of those who passed by when the wheel was turning. So, today, with the aid of a sophisticated laser like those of our CD readers, he imagined that he could revive the vanished voices of antiquity!

When he was invited to show his work at the Museu de la Ceràmica in Barcelona, Claudi proposed that I do a Thermic Song prior to the opening. I had long since left working with earth to dedicate myself exclusively to the transformation of fire into sound. Whether because of his eagerness to break down the barriers that had for too long been erected between various types of artistic expression, or simply out of friendship, it was a daring proposal and I had a concrete goal in mind: to create a sonic bubble out of the vibration of the flame, to build a virtual thermic chamber through which visitors would approach the museum. In this way, their daily worries left behind, they would more easily make contact with the potent

More concretely, “an ardent desire to return to what we are” seems to be Claudi’s guide. He has also written: “I’ve understood that reality is much vaster than the interpretation of it made by the tiny perception of our ego.” Thus, another image takes shape: his Blanques stand like beacons that will illuminate the incomprehensible labyrinth of our lives so that we can navigate between Scylla and Charybdis, the two famous shoals of absolute order and disorder. In fact, in the celebrated work Entre le cristal et la fumée, the biologist Henri Atlan defines the nature of these two impassable barriers between which life must continually glide. On the one hand, the perfect repetition of glass signifies absolute Order, death,


because of the impossibility of evolution; on the other, the chaotic evanescence of smoke prefigures a total lack of organization, which blocks any possibility of construction. And when I stood, empty of spirit, before the monument dedicated to the Republicans, the vanquished in the Spanish Civil War, I experienced this analogy in a brutal way: the smooth and cold perfection, the perfectly ordered clarity of the concrete chamber imprisoned what I perceived through the slits to be an intense block of dark smoke, concentrated, solidified under the crushing effect of the gravity of a black hole. I found myself, then, faced with Order and Disorder, materially recognizable, horrifying. And these two extremes, face to face, affirmed their complementary opposition: one death that imprisoned another. Nevertheless, between these two walls, one could sense a slight vibration: a slight, fragile breath was circulating between the massive walls. I had to submit to the evidence: a life was softly escaping. After the titanic effort, both technical and affective, that Claudi invested in the creation of this monument, I predicted — quite inaccurately, it must be said — that it would be difficult for him to go back to making things on a smaller scale. Later I was to learn that this comment had affected him and caused him to have doubts. Luckily, his response has taken the form of large engravings meticulously done with a burin on copper plates that represent La calma of trees, water and rock. Perhaps also

the search for his own calmness; a subtle way of healing the wounds of the previous work, an effective way of caring for himself through depolarization in order to get back on track. His new moons, very present and forceful, show that in the end I was mistaken. While sailing, I have often examined the north coast of Cap de Creus. It is a magnificent sight. The sheer rocky coast, marbled with multicolored strata, flows into the blue of the Mediterranean to emerge farther out in soft waves before being dislocated again by the repeated blows of the heavy seas raised by the wind against the rocks. Seeing this would bring to my unconscious mind the vision of Claudi’s Rocs superimposed on the landscape. One day I even had a mischievous desire to send him a postcard of the coast with the simple message: “God is imitating you.” But then I had an idea... One day Claudi agreed to spend a day sailing. A soft sea breeze inflated the sails and we swayed to the muffled sound of the waves caressing the rocks. Nature held her breath so that we could better admire her. Far from Scylla and Charybdis, we contemplated the Costa Brava under the sun, in a complicit silence. Michel Moglia Etigny, 29 November, 2015

Michel Moglia has throughout his life intuitively sought his own path, always mistrustful of himself. Before, when he thought he was a ceramicist, he melted crushed rocks in his anti-alchemical crucible. After, for more than twenty years, he has combined the song of his flames with that of whales, wolves and humans. Fire, his faithful travel companion, continues to guide him, unpredictable, chancy, mysterious. This text comes from the monograph, Claudi Casanovas Ceramics: 1975 – 2015


Biography Claudi Casanovas was born in Catalonia in 1956. He studied theatre in Barcelona and subsequently trained as a ceramicist in the Catalan city of Olot. He was a member of the Coure Potters’ Cooperative from 1978 until 1987, and in 1992 he won first prize at the III International Ceramics Competition in Mino, Japan. In 2004, he won a competition to create a monument against Fascism in Olot. This Memorial Als Vençuts was installed in June 2006. His artwork has been displayed in major exhibitions and museum collections worldwide, including The Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the National Gallery of Australia. “I start with a model that arises in my imagination through shapes that slowly inflate or melt between my fingers. It’s the thing I told you about with the cube of dry earth that turns into a sphere. I don’t know the result a priori; I imagine it vaguely “wrapped in darkness,” and by rubbing and rubbing, like Giacometti erasing and erasing, the essential emerges, the possible subtractions, the necessary shape. Afterwards it’s only a case of making it grow, giving it shape, realizing this embryo where everything is already formed. Complete agreement, then, with Master Giacometti. The few times I’ve followed an imitative process, starting for example from a Romanesque angel or the silhouette of a mountain by, let’s say, the painter Carme Sanglas, starting with existing images and simply transforming them, the resulting pieces have been soulless, quite anodyne. I still refuse to reject them — they too are — but I know they’re not much, and so that the more exuberant can grow, like in a forest where every once in a while the weak plants have to be removed so the strong can grow, I have to set them aside. It’s the difference between the imaginatio-vera and fantasies.”

The above quote by Claudi Casanovas comes from the monograph, Claudi Casanovas Ceramics: 1975 – 2015


Selected Solo Exhibitions

2017

Quart Minvant, Erskine, Hall & Coe, London, UK

2006

Memorial Als Vençuts (monument), Ajuntament d’Olot, Olot, Spain

2014

Un Jardí Imaginari, Puls Contemporary Ceramics, Brussels, Belgium Quart Creixent, Erskine, Hall & Coe, London, UK

2005

Pedres i Gravats, Galerie Besson, London, UK

2013

Lluna Nova, Erskine, Hall & Coe, London, UK Claudi Casanovas, Officine Saffi, Milan, Italy

2004

Ermitons, Kunstforum, Kirchberg, Switzerland

2003

2012

Bols, Puls Contemporary Ceramics, Brussels, Belgium Bols, Galerie Marianne Heller, Heidelberg, Germany La Calma, Gravats per un paisatge, Fundació Valvi, Girona, Spain

2011

Pòrtic Marí (final exhibition), Galerie Besson, London, UK Claudi Casanovas, Kunstforum, Solothurn, Switzerland

Blocs, Museo Nacional de Cerámica y de las Artes Suntuarias González Martí, València, Spain Blocs, Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Oostende, Belgium Blocs, Museu Comarcal de la Garrotxa, Olot, Spain Blocs, Galeria Joan Gaspar, Barcelona, Spain Pedres blanques, Galerie Besson, London, UK

2002

Blocs, Museum of Contemporary Art, Oostende, Belgium

2010

Camp d’urnes, Puls Contemporary Ceramics, Brussels, Belgium Camp d’urnes, Galerie Jytte Møller, Fredericia, Denmark Les blanques monjoies per a Odisseu, Hélène Porée, Paris, France Les blanques monjoies per a Odisseu, Museu del Cantir, Argentona, Spain

2001

Colonia Iulia Equestris, Musée Romain, Nyon, Switzerland Twenty Blocks, Galerie Besson, London, UK Blocs, Galerie Marianne Heller, Heidelberg, Germany

2009

Camp d’urnes, Galerie Besson, London, UK Escales de fang (installation), Cencal, Caldas de Raihna, Portugal

2000

Mini Retrospective, Galerie Besson, London, UK

1999

2008

Works from Japan, Galerie Besson, London, UK Escales de gel (installation), Savaitaipale, Finland

Claudi Casanovas, Galerie Scremini, Paris, France Claudi Casanovas, Centrum Goedwerk, Zulte, Belgium

1998

Ten Years, Ten Jars, Galerie Besson, London, UK Pedra foguera, Museu de Ceràmica, Barcelona, Spain Claudi Casanovas, Garth Clark Gallery, New York, USA Claudi Casanovas, Galerie B15, München, Germany Quinze Gerres, Galeria Rosa Pous, Girona, Spain


1997

Pedra foguera, Keramikmuseum Grimmerhus, Denmark Pedra foguera, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Dunkerque, France Dos Cercles (wall plates), Ajuntament d’Olot, Olot, Spain Dos Cercles (wall plates), Medi Ambient, Generalitat de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain

1989

Claudi Casanovas, Sala Vayreda, Olot, Spain Claudi Casanovas, Palau de Caramany, Girona, Spain Claudi Casanovas, Ceramo, Vitoria, Spain Claudi Casanovas (second London exhibition), Galerie Besson, London, UK

1996

Tea Bowls, Galerie Besson, London, UK Pedra foguera, Hetjens Museum, Düsseldorf, Germany Sala Municipal, Museu del Càntir, Argentona, Spain Claudi Casanovas, Galeria Lluís Heras, Palafrugell, Spain

1988

Sema, Hetjens Museum, Düsseldorf, Germany Claudi Casanovas (first London exhibition), Galerie Besson, London, UK Claudi Casanovas, Galeria Palau de Caramany, Girona, Spain

1986

Exposición Inaugural, Galería Ambigú, Céramica contemporánea, Zaragoza, Spain

1985

Després del Soroll, Sala Clarà, Olot, Spain Àmfores, Galeria Palau de Caramany, Girona, Spain Després del Soroll, Galeria d’Art Pujada del Castell, Figueres, Spain Àmfores, Sala Adama, Madrid, Spain Claudi Casanovas, Sala El Setze, Martorell, Spain

1983

Escorces de Terra, Museu de Ceràmica, Barcelona, Spain

1982

Escorces de Terra, Beca d’Arts Plàstiques Ciutat d’Olot, Museu Comarcal, Olot, Spain

1977

Mural Escola Federic Mistral, Barcelona, Spain

1994

Cercles, Galeria Joan Gaspar, Barcelona, Spain Claudi Casanovas, Garth Clark Gallery, New York, USA Claudi Casanovas, Galeria d’Art Sant Lluc, Olot, Spain Plat mural (mural), Museu de la Ceràmica, Barcelona, Spain

1993

Claudi Casanovas, Sales Municipals, Girona, Spain Claudi Casanovas, Galerie Besson, London, UK

1992

Claudi Casanovas, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

1991

Week-end in Shitara, Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo, Japan Claudi Casanovas, for seventeen years, Galerie Besson, London, UK Tea Bowls, Tom Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

1990

Claudi Casanovas, Galleri Lejonet, Stockholm, Sweden Fragments, Galeria Palau de Caramany, Girona, Spain


Claudi Casanovas’s work is included in the following public collections: Aberystwyth Arts Centre, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK Ajuntament d’Olot, Olot, Spain Centro de Arte e Comunicaçao, ARCO, Alcobaça, Portugal Ceramic Cultural Park Museum, Shigaraki, Japan Ceramic Museum Seto, Aichi, Japan Escultural Park Amorousios, Athens, Greece Europäisches Kunsthandwerk, Stuttgart, Germany Fredericston Art Fund, Hong Kong, China Gardiner Museum, Toronto, Canada Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia Hetjens Museum, Dusseldorf, Germany Keramikmuseum, Westerwald, Germany Kunstgewerbemuseum, Dresden, Germany Musée de la Céramique, Sèvres, France Musée de la Céramique, Vallauris, France Musée Romain, Nyon, Switzerland Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche, Faenza, Italy Museu de Ceràmica, Barcelona, Spain Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Holland Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA Museum voor Moderne Kunst Oostende, Oostende, Belgium Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, UK Public Collection, Internacional Ceràmiques Competition, Mino, Japan Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, UK Stuart & Maxine Frankel Foundation for Art, Michigan, USA Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK World Ceramic Center, Icheon, South Korea

Prizes 1992

Grand Prize, III International Ceramics Competition, Mino, Japan

1990

Residence in Japan, Scholarship from Department of Culture, Generalitat of Catalonia, Spain

1987

Honorable Mention, II International Ceramics Competition 89, Mino, Japan

1986

First Prize, Palm Sunday Market, Vic, Barcelona, Spain Visual Arts Scholarship, Generalitat of Catalonia, Spain Gran Prix de la Ville de Vallauris, International Biennial, France

1985

First Prize, Sala Clarà-Vayreda, Olot, Spain First Prize of L’Alcora, Castelló de la Plana, Spain Acquisition Prize, Deputation of Girona, Spain Emilia Romagna Prize, Concorso Internazionale Ceramica d’Arte, Faenza, Italy

1981

First Prize, Galeria Tramontan, Palamós, Spain Prize City of Palamós, Spain Third Prize, Talavera de la Reina, Spain Third Prize, City of Manises, València, Spain Visual Arts Scholarship, City of Olot, Spain

1978

First Prize, City of Manises, Gallego Vilar Prize 1978 (ex-aequo), València, Spain


Erskine, Hall & Coe The gallery specialises in Contemporary and 20th century ceramics, but also explore the interplay between ceramics and two dimensional art. The gallery is in Mayfair, at the centre of London’s art district — within the Royal Arcade, a building constructed in 1879 that connects Old Bond Street with Albemarle Street. Each year we hold exhibitions presenting acclaimed international and British artists as well as emerging talent. The following public and notable collections have acquired works from the gallery: Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, UK Craft Study Centre, Surrey Institute of Art & Design, Farnham, UK Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland, Australia Hamilton Art Gallery, Victoria, Australia Oldham Gallery, Oldham, UK National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, USA The Derek Williams Trust, Wales, UK The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK (with the assistance of Nicholas and Judith Goodison’s Charitable Settlement) The Gardiner Museum, Toronto, Canada The Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan The National Museum of Wales, Wales, UK The Stuart & Maxine Frankel Foundation for Art, Michigan, USA Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, UK


The Fitzrovia Chapel, a Grade II* listed chapel, was originally built as The Middlesex Hospital Chapel. It was designed in 1891 by celebrated architect John Loughborough Pearson and was completed in 1929. The Middlesex Hospital Chapel was intended as a memorial to Major Ross, MP, former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the hospital. This hospital closed in 2005, and during the redevelopment of the site the chapel underwent extensive restoration. The chapel reopened its doors to the public, with The Fitzrovia Chapel Foundation established as a new charity created to ensure the preservation of the building for future generations and to make it a space for community and cultural activities, continuing its role in enriching the lives of residents and visitors alike. Further information about the chapel may be found at fitzroviachapel.org, and enquiries may be directed to info@fitzroviachapel.org.

Erskine, Hall & Coe would like to thank The Fitzrovia Chapel for helping to make this exhibition possible. Photography of The Fitzrovia Chapel by Tareq Mooradun Photography of artwork by Michael Harvey Designed by fivefourandahalf Printed by Witherbys Lithoflow Printing


Claudi Casanovas: Quart Minvant