Sculptor’s Waterloo show set to bowl you over
Christopher Reid Flock’s sculptures have no practical purpose other than intriguing and delighting viewers
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.
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.