Artist Profile - - CONTENTS - by Ful­via Man­telli

Honor Free­man’s porce­lain-cast in­ter­pre­ta­tions of in­con­spic­u­ous and well­worn do­mes­tic ob­jects nar­rate the rhythm of daily life’s minu­tiae, trac­ing time pass­ing and what it leaves in its wake. MY FIRST EN­COUNTER WITH HONOR FREE­MAN’S work was her onof­fon se­ries (2002-2009) of replica light switches and power points that play­fully sub­verted shared spa­ces in Ade­laide’s West End. They went on to grace discreet nooks from re­gional in­ter­state cities to South Amer­ica. Other in­ter­ven­tions have in­cluded porce­lain bread tags and door han­dles. They were largely about putting some­thing in­ti­mate and pri­vate out into the pub­lic; like tiny gifts, a wink and a nod for those that no­tice the un­no­ticed.

Many were black­ened by repet­i­tive ‘use’.

It was just de­light­ful! Maybe it brought those peo­ple back to their body of think­ing of ac­tions they do sub­con­sciously so many times in a day.

Honor’s still-life in­stal­la­tions also re­phrase small rou­tine ac­tions to chal­lenge our as­sump­tions. In dis­till­ing the residue of our in­ter­ac­tions with ba­nal ob­jects, they el­e­vate the daily hum­drum of our ex­is­tence.

It all comes back to ideas of de­cay and preser­va­tion, all wrapped up in ideas of still-life; ob­jects them­selves be­com­ing the still-lives, lifted from the kitchen. Ev­ery­one likes to re­mem­ber the big things, but they’re not what make up the days.

Her ear­li­est still-life se­ries of cast Tup­per­ware con­tain­ers (2003-2008), re­main an im­por­tant body of work that still res­onates for her.

I was play­ing with the ma­te­ri­al­ity of plas­tic and porce­lain, and re­searched the history of Brownie Wise and Earl Tup­per. I was re­flect­ing on still-life artists like Gwyn Hanssen Pig­ott; also the mess of life in the cup­board of Tup­per­ware and plas­tic, and throw­away cul­ture. More re­cently they’ve been lay­ered with fem­i­nist ideas, in terms of Tup­per­ware par­ties and what they cre­ated in the ’50s, for women to have the op­por­tu­nity to in­de­pen­dently make a liv­ing – I en­joy those over­tones and the nos­tal­gia.

While the cur­rent spot­light is on the raw and vis­ceral in con­tem­po­rary ce­ram­ics, Honor’s prac­tice rel­ishes the ex­per­i­men­tal and al­chemic na­ture of the medium’s ma­te­ri­al­ity.

I read­ily ad­mit that I’m a bit of a con­trol freak across the rest of my life, but in ce­ram­ics there’s this kind of sur­ren­der: you put it in the kiln and re­lin­quish that con­trol, your heart’s in your throat at times. It keeps you hum­ble. I love that mag­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion of ma­te­rial: from hum­ble earth that’s ev­ery­where and has been around for ages, then add fire and you’ve got ce­ram­ics! And the qual­ity of porce­lain it­self in­jects that ob­ject with some­thing else that’s in­de­scrib­able.

Her cast sponges and eroded soaps (2005-on­go­ing) con­vey sen­sory qual­i­ties – in both their mak­ing process and our en­gage­ment with them.

The soaps sound like peb­bles, and I love those re­la­tion­ships with the water; they go against the body and they wear away. They’re scent­less but peo­ple can still at­tach a scent to them; this is hi­lar­i­ous, at Syd­ney Con­tem­po­rary, I heard some­one say “oh soaps! can you smell that!!”. There’s that nice play on the idea of fa­mil­iar­ity and the power of mem­ory and as­so­ci­a­tion.

She refers to her works as “ghost ob­jects”.

They’re a mem­ory of the original, like a tan­gi­ble whis­per or echo of that ob­ject, eter­nally pre­served but sub­tly changed. The cast­ing process is my po­etic way of de­scrib­ing how I feel about them.

Honor rev­els in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween “repet­i­tive knowl­edge and repet­i­tive craft­ing”, and the na­ture of ce­ramic pro­cesses to hon­our time and cham­pion rep­e­ti­tion.

Slip-cast­ing is es­sen­tially an in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion process, but it of­ten in­cludes hand­made pro­cesses, es­pe­cially the soaps; they come out of the moulds re­ally gnarly, and I spend a great deal of time re­mem­ber­ing and reap­ply­ing all the cracks, sand­ing them, go­ing back and putting the dirt marks through them, then sand­ing again post-fir­ing.

Ma­te­ri­al­ity ranks highly in her prac­tice, yet it’s her re­fresh­ingly al­tru­is­tic re­la­tion­ship with ideas that de­fines its po­tency. In de­vel­op­ing pro­gres­sive se­ries of works, Honor mines her con­cepts’ nuances for their mul­ti­ple nar­ra­tives.

I keep un­pick­ing them to get more out of them, as long as they still chal­lenge me and pique my cu­rios­ity. One work leads into an­other and they all come about in dif­fer­ent ways. Some might be from a line in a song, or a book, or try­ing to cap­ture that one po­etic mo­ment. Quite of­ten the ideas never come to be, I just get that thrill of hav­ing con­sid­ered them. I’ve thought for some time that all these ideas are out there, and when you’re right for them, they’re ready for you.

Honor’s work ar­tic­u­lates ex­pe­ri­ences and mem­o­ries of her im­me­di­ate en­vi­ron­ments. While liv­ing in Syd­ney (2005-2010), a new se­ries of work in­tro­duced the mod­est bucket and fun­nel.

I was liv­ing near a body of water and be­came more in­ter­ested in ebbs and flows, and how we’re largely made up of water. There are lots of lovely ex­pres­sions about how we’re re­lated to the tides, also in our emo­tional sense. Buck­ets hang around in the stu­dio, which is of­ten how these ob­jects find their way into my work, and they also hap­pen to fit per­fectly in my kiln. All that these hum­ble, func­tional, hard­work­ing ob­jects evoke: they catch the leaks, the leak­ing bucket, the over­flow­ing, and that beau­ti­ful Bob Dy­lan song “buck­ets of rain, buck­ets of tears, got all them buck­ets comin’ out of my ears”.

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