El fang

Catherine Flora Murray


Photo by Ellen Dahl

Photo by Ellen Dahl

The objects in this exhibition explore the tension between tradition and contemporary artistic practice in ceramics. El fang, the title of the show, means ‘the mud’ in Catalan; the wet, soft, earthy matter that the ceramicist works with. Traditionally mud connects the objects to the particular locality of the artisan and their handiwork. In this installation, however, the cantir (a traditional water-jug found in a variety of forms all across Spain, Portugal and into France) is made from mud not particular to its origin. In this sense the archetype of the cantir is troubled by displacement, distance and dissimulation.

The cantir is presented as a fictitious reconstruction of the original drinking vessel, stylised almost to the point of kitsch. It finds itself on a surface that invokes the stone-stack walls in Gaudi’s Park Guell in Barcelona, which itself appears to be some kind of theatrical set in which the drama of the artist’s imagination is played out. The assemblage of these objects and surfaces, whilst discontinuous from the traditional practices of local artisans and materials, are borne from the swampland of the artist’s childhood experience, the raw material of her memories in Catalonia and the time spent amongst her mother’s country. The inauthenticity of the ceramicists tradition is then, paradoxically, troubled by the reality of memory and fiction.

Insta: @catherinefloramurray


Image credit: el fang, Catherine Flora Murray (2019) Red terracotta, white slip, cork stoppers, twine.