Sculp­tor’s Water­loo show set to bowl you over

Christopher Reid Flock’s sculp­tures have no prac­ti­cal pur­pose other than in­trigu­ing and de­light­ing view­ers

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - REGINA HAGGO Regina Haggo, art his­to­rian, pub­lic speaker, cu­ra­tor and for­mer pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Can­ter­bury in New Zealand, teaches at the Dun­das Val­ley School of Art. dhaggo@thes­pec.com

Only in your wildest dreams could you de­scribe what Christopher Reid Flock cre­ates as a pot to put things in.

The Hamil­ton artist’s ce­ramic sculp­tures are on show in In­te­gra­tion/Dis­in­te­gra­tion at Water­loo’s Cana­dian Clay and Glass Gallery. At once sparse and stun­ning, the ex­hi­bi­tion is ar­ranged into seven parts, com­pris­ing Flock’s most re­cent in­stal­la­tion work and some of his ear­lier pieces that show us how he got to where he is now. Here are some of my favourites. For “In­fin­ity,” Flock made 39 stoneware bowls on the wheel. Each one boasts a red in­te­rior, a white ex­te­rior and a wide mouth ris­ing from a nar­row bot­tom.

The best way, I found, to ex­pe­ri­ence this in­stal­la­tion is to walk along the curve and count the bowls. That draws your at­ten­tion to chang­ing sizes and the way the bowls lean.

The bowls lie on the floor in a curve, in­creas­ing in size from one end of the line to the other. The small­est mea­sures about one cen­time­tre in di­am­e­ter.

The small­est bowls lean to­ward the win­dow, as though they seek the light. Neigh­bour­ing bowls stand up­right. The big­gest ones lean away from the win­dow.

“The sym­bol­ism be­hind 39 bowls rep­re­sents the age at which I came back to Canada from Ja­pan, at the age of 39,” Flock tells me.

“In some re­gards it felt like an in­fin­ity be­ing away.

“The last bowl, 80 cen­time­tres in di­am­e­ter, be­gins to share the vol­ume of rich­ness and ca­pa­bil­ity to hold con­tent.”

The or­derly ar­range­ment of “In­fin­ity” con­trasts with a more im­pas­sioned ap­proach in “In­te­gra­tion/ Dis­in­te­gra­tion Cup Sau­cies.”

Forty stoneware forms, each dif­fer­ent in shape, hang on a white wall, cast­ing shad­ows. All the forms are an in­tense red. This unites them.

“The red forms are to sym­bol­ize the pas­sion and heat of the mo­ment in cre­at­ing and re­al­iz­ing the sim­ple form’s po­ten­tial to be en­gag­ing and pas­sion­ate,” Flock ex­plains.

Each form sug­gests a fa­mil­iar shape like a cup and saucer with ten­drils, or rib­bons, all stuck to­gether, crushed or pulled apart.

“In my first year, my 40th, back in Canada, I felt a sense of a loss of self but also felt like I was be­com­ing part of some­thing. This is where the nu­ance of in­te­grat­ing and dis­in­te­grat­ing came to light,” says Flock, who is now 45.

“There are 40 in­te­grat­ing dis­in­te­grat­ing cup sau­cies start­ing with very rigid forms at the top of the wall flow­ing through the grav­ity of space and time and closer to the floor rip­pling apart and even­tu­ally be­com­ing and dis­in­te­grat­ing into sand.”

The “Jomon Squeeze Toy” in­stal­la­tion in a smaller room takes its in­spi­ra­tion from toys, not ves­sels.

“Ev­ery maker’s devel­op­ment is sim­i­lar to a child play­ing with a favourite toy,” Flock says.

The non­flex­i­ble squeeze toys, in red, blue and yel­low — the three pri­mary colours — are most def­i­nitely over­sized. Walk­ing around them in a small space you might con­sider how big the be­ing is who plays with these. Is it posses­sive of its toys — and look­ing over your shoul­der?

“12 Mo­ments” of­fers a dozen teapots Flock built from 1998 to 2015. The cre­ative pro­gres­sion is strik­ing. The ear­lier ex­am­ples re­call proper Ja­panese tea pots, the later ones are won­der­fully wilder.

PHO­TOS BY DOU­GLAS HAGGO

Christopher Reid Flock, In­fin­ity, thrown stoneware. Length of in­stal­la­tion: 15 me­tres. Di­am­e­ter of small­est bowl: one cen­time­tre. Di­am­e­ter of largest bowl: 80 cen­time­tres.

Christopher Reid Flock, de­tail of In­te­gra­tion/Dis­in­te­gra­tion Cup Sau­cies, a five-me­tre high wall in­stal­la­tion of thrown stoneware, vit­ri­fied forms en­hanced with acrylic paint.

Christopher Reid Flock, Jomon Squeeze Toys, red, blue and yel­low, slip­cast stoneware, 49 by 18 by 33 inches.

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