Dis­cov­ery: Shaun Hayes

Artist Profile - - CONTENTS - www.shaunhayes.com.au @bad__art_

I AM A CERAMIC ARTIST. The con­cep­tual frame­work of my cur­rent prac­tice was shaped dur­ing trips to Jingdezhen, China in 2011 and 2013, and in­flu­enced by a jux­ta­po­si­tion of past, present, new and old in the ev­ery­day en­vi­ron­ment. The ex­pe­ri­ence ex­posed me to tra­di­tional ceramic tech­niques and mod­ern meth­ods of pro­duc­tion that cater to a con­tem­po­rary mar­ket. I be­came in­ter­ested in the vis­ual dy­namic be­tween the un­chang­ing per­ma­nence of tra­di­tional wares and the seem­ing im­per­ma­nence of mass-pro­duced mis­cel­lanea that cre­ates si­mul­ta­ne­ous un­ease and har­mony. My process takes im­agery from toys, pop­u­lar cul­ture and found fig­urines. By cut­ting-up, ex­chang­ing, adding and al­ter­ing el­e­ments, I cre­ate nar­ra­tive sculp­tures, of­ten with an un­earthly qual­ity. Found ob­jects are the start­ing point to cre­at­ing plas­ter moulds; then by us­ing slip cast­ing and sculpt­ing meth­ods, I trans­form the orig­i­nal medium into clay. In do­ing so, the ob­ject can be dis­torted and built upon in the ini­tial stages of form­ing. My most re­cent work uses clas­si­cal ceramic forms as the base onto which other parts are joined, to cre­ate satir­i­cal ob­jects that merge non­sen­si­cal com­bi­na­tions of ob­jects with seem­ingly un­re­lated sub­ject mat­ters. These com­bi­na­tions speak of a mod­ern global con­di­tion whereby tra­di­tional and his­toric cus­toms are re­placed and of­ten con­tinue along­side mod­ern in­no­va­tions and new ways of liv­ing. Us­ing ves­sels that hold sig­nif­i­cant ref­er­ence to cul­tural his­tory and the past, and com­bin­ing them with con­tem­po­rary ob­jects, my work re­sponds to this blend of past and present, adored and dis­carded. The work ‘Chomp-Chomp’ com­bines a clas­si­cal ori­en­tal form with slip-cast Tyrra­nosaurus rex heads moulded from a plas­tic toy. The ves­sel is a typ­i­cal Chi­ne­se­in­flu­enced lid­ded vase with a high shoul­der and slen­der, nar­row base. The toy T. rex parts act as dec­o­ra­tive adorn­ments sur­round­ing the body of the work. The piece is made from white stoneware and is cre­ated us­ing tra­di­tional meth­ods and tech­niques I stud­ied at the Aus­tralian Na­tional Univer­sity School of Art and De­sign in Canberra. A sprayed porce­lain fin­ish fur­ther in­stils the no­tion of tra­di­tion and his­tory. The sur­face fin­ish is matte and sandy, which looks soft and en­gag­ing, but once up close it be­comes ap­par­ent the sur­face is rough and abra­sive, re­in­forc­ing the du­al­ity within the work. The same Chi­nese ves­sel is used as the base for the piece ‘Baby, Baby Ohh’ (pic­tured above). This work is dec­o­rated with baby heads moulded from a doll, cut and ar­ranged to act as a dec­o­ra­tive fea­ture en­cas­ing the work. Through the sur­real im­agery of dis­sected doll parts and the use of rep­e­ti­tion, the work cre­ates a ten­sion that con­veys the sense of un­set­tle­ment and balance that drives my cur­rent prac­tice. ‘Nip-Nip’ em­ploys toy lob­ster claws to pro­duce an ob­ject with equally cu­ri­ous or­na­men­ta­tion. The use of these claws as dec­o­ra­tion plays on the con­tra­dic­tory na­ture of a lux­ury item ren­dered in cheaply man­u­fac­tured plas­tic. The repet­i­tive ar­range­ment of pieces across the sur­face of the pot em­pha­sises the scale and cre­ates depth and tex­ture. ‘Rat Race’ is a more re­cent evo­lu­tion us­ing Greco-Ro­man-in­spired forms in­stead of ori­en­tal ones. The work uses minia­ture busts, orig­i­nally used to make doll’s house models, and ar­ranges them en masse around a rat fig­ure to cre­ate a busy, chaotic and play­ful nar­ra­tive. Cre­at­ing sto­ries in my work by push­ing the medium and the tech­ni­cal chal­lenges faced re­mains a driv­ing force in my con­cep­tual prac­tice, mak­ing each new piece a thrilling feat to pro­duce.

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