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Sunday, 4 September 2016

Ningyo porcelain figure & divination bowl

Ann-Marie Tully, Ningyo. Earthenware, porcelain, cobalt. 145mm (L) x 40mm (W) x 45mm (D).


































A Ningyo is a mermaid or fish-like creature from Japanese folklore. This porcelain sculpture references this in figurative style, and the use of pattern; also referencing wider instances of mermaid mythology through the inclusion of an image of a western sailing ship on the figure. The small scale of the piece references another Japanese tradition - that of Netsuke: the production of very small sculptural objects. The blue renderings resemble tattoos, another Japanese tradition; but also a maritime tradition that crosses cultural boundaries. The blue colour references numerous decorative porcelain traditions (Delft, Chinese blue-ware, Willow etc.); as well as mythic tattooing practices, such as the blue facially tattooed women of the Aures Mountains region of northeastern Algeria, who believe that tattoos provide protection, luck and beauty.



Ann-Marie Tully
Ningyo divination bowl
porcelain, cobalt
180mm (diameter) x 60mm (D)
A Ningyo is a mermaid or fish-like creature from Japanese folklore. This porcelain bowl references this myth by way of inclusion of an Ukiyo-e mermaid image, juxtaposed with images drawn from San rock art that appears to represent fish-like people, and freshwater mormyrid fish - pointing to the many cultural instances of myths of fish-human transmogrification in human cosmology. 

The bowl format of the work references the ubiquitous practice of divination in bowls: sortilege - the casting and interpretation of lots, or sortes (sticks, stones, bones, etc.) in search of answers to life’s conundrums; and augury - the qualitative assessment of shapes and proximities, for example the examination of dismembered animal remains in search of supernatural portents.


'Singing bones', cobalt paintings on bone china fossils


Ann-Marie Tully, Singing Bones: Thomas Shelby. Bone china. 40mm (H) x 80mm (L) 
60mm (W)

Ann-Marie Tully, Singing Bones: Polly Shelby. Bone china. 60mm (H) x 80mm (L) x 55mm (W)

Ann-Marie Tully, Singing Bones: Lieutenant-Colonel William Nutt. Bone china. 95mm (H)
 x 150mm (L) x 70mm (W)

Ann-Marie Tully, Singing Bones: Rommel. Bone china. 50mm (H) x 120mm (L) x 70mm (W).































The Singing bones series of works are literally fossils, produced through dipping and coating found and collected animal skulls and bones in a customised porcelain (china) slurry. The coated skulls then go through a process of firing that ‘releases’ the bone remains, leaving behind the ‘porcelain jacket’, and some residual bone matter: rendering the pieces as bone china. The title 'Singing bones' is a reference to the life stories that bones bear witness to. Further to these animal stories, I add a palimpsestual layer of populist, historical, and mythical human narratives. The characters painted onto the skulls tend to suit the type of skull, for example pairing a raptor skull with a soldier, and small-time gangster’s face with a small herbivore skull. The subjects tend to be compromised and complex anti-heroes, whose circumstances shaped their existence, much like the bones. Bones are elements of divination in many shamanic cultures, telling stories. These bones tell (sing) multiple stories: that of the animals that once ‘clothed’ and inhabited them, the human stories they have become surrogates for, and the ineffable fate of all who view them.

'Bushido delft', cobalt on porcelain paintings

Ann-Marie Tully, 'Bushido delft' III. Porcelain, cobalt,. 230mm diameter.

Ann-Marie Tully, 'Bushido delft' II. Porcelain, cobalt,. 230mm diameter.


Ann-Marie Tully, 'Bushido delft' I. Porcelain, cobalt,. 230mm diameter.
















































































































Ann-Marie Tully
Bushido delft I
porcelain, cobalt
225mm (diameter) x 30mm (D)

Ann-Marie Tully
Bushido delft II
porcelain, cobalt
230 mm (diameter) x 30mm (D)

Ann-Marie Tully
Bushido delft III
porcelain, cobalt
225mm (diameter) x 30mm (D)

The term Bushidō, refers to the Samurai code of chivalry, literally meaning 'the way of the warrior’. These delft-style porcelain discs break with the ceramic blue-ware tradition of ‘easy' decorative subject matter, employing more challenging cultural subject matter: in this instance that of Samurai warriors and Onna-bugeisha [female samurai]. 

'Congo delft', cobalt on porcelain paintings

Ann-Marie Tully, 'Congo delft: there be dragons'. Porcelain, cobalt. 300 x 200mm.





























Ann-Marie Tully
Congo delft: There be dragons
porcelain, cobalt
180mm (H) x 235mm (W) x 30mm (D) 

This delft-style porcelain plaque breaks with the ceramic blue-ware tradition of ‘easy' decorative subject matter, employing more challenging cultural subject matter: in this instance a representation of mercenary troops from South Africa during the1960’s Congo mercenary war, drawn from a personal archive. The source image did not include a river scene, which is included in the artwork to forge a ink with Joseph Conrad's harrowing tale of a journey up the Congo river in 1890, the Heart of Darkness. The presence of an oriental dragon - such as might be found in oriental blue-ware - in the Congo river, in front to the mercenary soldiers standing on a barge, is a reference to the inclusion of dragon images and the phrase 'here be dragons’ at the edges of old European maps, indicating unknown regions and fear of the unknown. This fear of the non-western world is central to Conran’s book, and was certainly a theme for soldiers during the 1960’s Congo Mercenary war. The dragon on this plaque represents this fear, but also the threat imposed by colonialism in Africa - in particular the brutal history of Belgian colonialism in the Congo; and the American imperialism that operated surreptitiously behind the scenes of the 1960’s Congo mercenary war. While the mercenaries are a poised counterpoint to the dragon in the image, they are not the 'dragons' of this tale, rather they represent compromised figures, mere mortals in the grip of titanic political actions. This is an important theme of this body of work: asserting the mirky grey line* of human pursuit in the deluge of time.


*The 'grey line' is the term for the band around the Earth that separates daylight from darkness.

'Redneck delft', cobalt on porcelain paintings

Ann-Marie Tully, 'Redneck delft' I. Porcelain & cobalt. 300 x 300mm.
































Ann-Marie Tully
Redneck delft
porcelain, cobalt
245mm (H) x 225mm (W) x 30mm (D)

The North American term Redneck, refers to a working-class white person with reactionary political views, hailing from a rural area. This delft-style porcelain plaque breaks with the ceramic blue-ware tradition of ‘easy' decorative subject matter, employing more challenging cultural subject matter: in this instance a representation of the fictional character, Rust Cohle, played by Matthew McConaughey, (an actor who has become the arbiter of redneck-chic) from the first season of the HBO crime drama series True Detectives (2015). 







































The North American term Redneck, refers to a working-class white person with reactionary political views, hailing from a rural area. This delft-style porcelain plaque breaks with the ceramic blue-ware tradition of ‘easy' decorative subject matter, employing more challenging cultural subject matter: in this instance a representation of the fictional character, Rust Cohle, played by Matthew McConaughey, (an actor who has become the arbiter of redneck-chic) from the first season of the HBO crime drama series True Detectives (2015). 

Saturday, 16 April 2016

'Kitsune' porcelain figure & divination bowl


Ann-Marie Tully, Kitsune. Porcelain, cobalt. 280mm (H) x 125mm (W) x 125mm (D).




Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox. Japanese folklore associates kitsune with the ability to shape shift into human form; assuming the roles of tricksters, guardians, elders, lovers, and wives. This work also references San iconography in the form of a leaping jackal design on the front dress of the figure; drawing attention to the prevalence of jackal-headed figures (thought to be spirit-walking shaman in trance) in San rock art and cosmology - An intriguing overlap with the mythic fox shape-shifters of Japanese folklore.




Ann-Marie Tully
Kitsune divination bowl
Porcelain, cobalt, faux fur
105mm (diameter) x 85mm (D)


Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox, also referencing folkloric fox-human shape-shifters. Images of transforming and dancing oriental Kitsune women ring the bowl, accompanied by jackal designs drawn from San iconography, pointing to the mythic potential of jackal and jackal-headed figures in San rock art and cosmology - An intriguing overlap with the fox shape-shifters of Japanese folklore. 
The bowl format of the work references the ubiquitous practice of divination in bowls: sortilege - the casting and interpretation of lots, or sortes (sticks, stones, bones, etc.) in search of answers to life’s conundrums; and augury - the qualitative assessment of shapes and proximities, for example the examination of dismembered animal remains in search of supernatural portents.





'Diluvian delft', cobalt on porcelain paintings

Diluvian Delft


This series of work carries the name of the larger body of work, 'Diluvian Delft’. This title draws on mythological and broad cultural and historical instances. The term 'diluvian' refers to the biblical flood (a narrative supported in archaeological and geological trace; as well as occurring in numerous global origin myths). In particular I am interested in the transformational power of the flood. On a literal level, the apocalyptic proportions of the biblical flood resembles our anthropocene condition, where climate change threatens to radically alter the face of the earth, and thereby human culture. On a metaphysical level, the flood, signifies the transient flux of life, time,  and experience. My interest in blue ware ceramic (porcelain) decorative practices is longstanding, and takes centre stage in in this body of work, which draws on the rich and diverse decorative traditions and potentials of the medium. The dialectical characteristics of porcelain: volcanic, strong, and eternal; while simultaneously fragile, serves as a fitting metaphor for the populist, mythological and contemplative subject matter of the work. The colour blue is a significant element in this body of work, both aesthetically and metaphorically; being the colour of the sea (flood), planet earth, and a colour associated with both decorative and spiritual human traditions.

Ann-Marie Tully, 'Diluvian delft: Pompeii' II. Porcelain, cobalt, glaze. 230mm diameter.

Ann-Marie Tully, 'Diluvian delft: Pompeii' I. Porcelain, cobalt, glaze. 230mm diameter.

Ann-Marie Tully, 'Diluvian delft: Pompeii' III. Porcelain, cobalt, glaze. 230mm diameter.

Ann-Marie Tully, 'Diluvian delft: Frida and Watteau's donkey'. 
Porcelain, cobalt, glaze. 230mm x 170mm.

























Ann-Marie Tully
Diluvian delft: Pompeii I
porcelain, cobalt
195mm (diameter) x 30mm (D)

Ann-Marie Tully
Diluvian delft: Pompeii II
porcelain, cobalt
210mm (diameter) x 30mm (D)

Ann-Marie Tully
Diluvian delft: The bird woman of Herculaneum 
porcelain, cobalt
215mm (diameter) x 30mm (D)

Ann-Marie Tully
Diluvian delft: Frida & Watteau’s donkey
porcelain, cobalt
240mm (H) x 180mm (W) x 30mm (D)

The term 'diluvian' refers to the biblical flood (a narrative supported in archaeological and geological trace; as well as occurring in numerous global origin myths). These delft-style porcelain discs and plaques break with the ceramic blue-ware tradition of ‘easy' decorative subject matter, employing more challenging cultural subject matter: in this instance that of the art remains of a natural cataclysm at the classical cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum; and the surreal image of a Frida Kahlo style figure dragging a donkey-like form or skin through water.