With Nick Evans and Ruth Barker
The Glasgow School of Art
In geological terminology an ‘erratic’ refers to a large boulder transported some distance from its original site by glacial movement. Here the term acts as a convenient metaphor for the work of Sutherland-based ceramist Lotte Glob which finds itself translocated upon, literally, the work of graphic artist Nick Evans who has made the exhibition stands and mural motifs for Glob’s sculpture. The highly contrasting approaches by these two visual artists work well: Evans’ simplified bold, stark anglular designs (derived from Polynesian decorative motifs) complement the organic and kinetic fluidity of Glob’s figurative essays in clay.
Thus, for example, Glob’s ‘The Guardians’ – two sinuous obelisks around a metre high – are postioned on Evans’ six-panelled, floor-level display stand; the latter thus providing both backdrop and ‘frame’ for the former. A similar approach is employed in relation to the majority of the work and is found in, say, in the careful arrangment of ‘The Young Baobob’ and ‘Trifid of the Sea’ where, again, Evans’ four-panelled table allows for comfortable consideration of Glob’s botanic fantasies.
Glob herself chooses to describe herself as a potter and, while the term is adequate as a description of her well-chosen and perfected medium, it allows little insight into her approach and methodology. Glob enjoyed a highly formative apprenticeship with one of Denmark’s best known ceramists, the late Gutte Eriksen; and so from her mentor she learned to transform clay from dead matter to living material. The basis of Eriksen’s approach – down to earth and practical – was the importance of the base to any vessel. This fundamental instruction, learned by Glob at a very young age, has been a constant throughout her working life whether in the making of domestic tableware or ceramic sculpture. The Golem-like cephalous beings of ‘The Loch Eriboll Chorus’, whatever the rest of their nature, stand on broad feet and are supported by stocky legs recalling the shape and feel of Eriksen’s ‘mazagran’ goblets.
This modestly scaled exhibition (there are around forty works in total) nevertheless presents an important and rare opportunity to assess the progress and evolution of Glob’s work over nearly five decades. The earliest pieces here date from 1966 and thus were made when Glob was in her early twenties. The pieces from this period, including ‘Bog Doll,’ ‘Eat Your Heart Out,’ ‘Baluba Muse’ and ‘Old Bull’ already demonstrate an affinity with form and an impatient experimentalism – both important characteristics of Glob’s longstanding approach. ‘Old Bull’, in particular, evinces its own genesis and process in a transparent manner; the taurean form has been reduced to the most basic elements and these components (legs, trunk, neck and head) have been fashioned from wheel-thrown pots, assembled and conjoined to create something archetypal, rough and vaguely threatening. Looking at it takes the mind back to a more primitive, atavistic and elemental context; the work is modern only inasmuch as some of Picasso’s own similar motifs were such. In other words, the work reveals a dialogue with the essential past borrowing (in the best sense of the term) from the Cycladic and Minoan tradition to name but two influential elements.
At her best Glob seems to act almost like a conduit for the elemental influences around her - so that in much more recent work such as the platter ‘Loyal Loch,’ from 2009, there is a sense of the temporal vastness of geological process with a much more impressionist feeling of light in combination with sea and sky; glaze becomes a kind of deepening, optically enhanced ‘paint’ and the term ‘stoneware’ connotes something much more than its normal limited sense.
No artist is truly original but Glob’s approach and enormous talent certainly allows for the label ‘unique’ to be applied without contradiction. Glasgow School of Art, in thrall to current modish commercialism and art fashion which has resulted in the recent closure of its ceramics departments would do well to look closely at the work of this defining artist.