Publication: Ceramic Review
Something Out of Ordinary
The Dick Institute, Kilmarnock
Describing his passion for paraphernalia Simon Ward has commented:
“Over the past 15 years I have habitually collected objects from my travels around the world and more locally in charity and second hand shops…Ceramics, glass, furniture metal ware and plastics from the turn of the century….brushes, bamboo lunchboxes and fragments of kimonos from overseas visits…”
Complementing this statement is a selection of Ward’s extensive archive of bric-a-brac displayed in a museum case and mounted on the gallery walls. It’s an interesting approach, not least because the show, in its current location, happens to be in Kilmarnock’s Dick Institute – a typically austere Victorian edifice – which still functions, in part, as a museum.
The objects in Ward’s collection also give a valuable insight into the ceramist’s approach to object making, for here in his cabinet of curiosities we find a pair of wooden candle sticks with elongated bodies topped by small, cupped holders. Another oddly kitsch object is a glass dryer where six plastic stalks are topped by flattened surfaces which serve to stabilise the glasses. Both of these odd and rather unlovely objects hold a key to Ward’s visual vocabulary and find endless echoes in the numerous, carefully crafted pieces which comprise this surprising and delightful show.
‘Doodads, Whatsnames and Oojimaflips’, a series of seven wooden trays on which series of porcelain and wood objects are presented, demonstrates Ward’s fascination with elongated stems and cupped forms. The objects themselves, although non-functional, hint at past or intended uses and the juxtaposition of unlikely materials such as wooden branches and finely honed porcelain adds a complex, perplexing element to the work, drawing the viewer in, teasing and inviting answers to questions such as ‘what is it for?’ and ‘how was it made?’
Visually stunning and endlessly absorbing Ward’s work makes uses of recurrent motifs, forms and combinations. The large installation ‘Something Out of Ordinary’ comprises scores of individual elements, each of which, although similar, is also unique. Modified cup-stands (or ‘trees’) stand in their own uniquely made ‘plant’ pots while modified crockery (often complete with patterned glazes) and odd porcelain vessels ‘grow’ from their branches. Here Ward seems to be questioning the mass production of functional tableware while venturing into the territory of the installation artist. It’s also, of course, about the creation of visually arresting spectacle. On all counts, like the rest of this show, it’s a brilliant success.