Jacqueline Clayton

HYPERCLAY: Contemporary Ceramics

HYPERCLAY: Contemporary Ceramics

Jacqueline Clayton

Object Gallery, 2011; touring nationally 2012-2014

HYPERCLAY: Contemporary Ceramics is a National Touring Exhibition surveying the work of 8 Australian artists selected for their experimental approach to the medium. The showcase highlights strategies that extend ceramics practice into new, unexpected territories and reflect re-imagined possibilities for the medium.

Rilke and the Autoclave

“I will have the gardeners come to me and recite many flowers, and in their small melodious names I will bring back some remnant of the hundred fragrances.”
Rainer Maria Rilke; Requiem for a Friend

Requiem for a Friend is Rilke’s great commemorative elegy on mortality, memory and regret. The allegorical reference to a festoon of flowers as a means of evoking the past stands in stark contrast to his musings, in the same essay, on the single rose adorning his desk, fatally dislocated.

Rilke and the Autoclave develops from earlier work in employing floral imagery as its metaphoric core; and utilising the allusive associations of face powder (identity; conformity to an ideal; purposeful erasure of fault or blemish) and the in vitro (within glass) isolation of the laboratory via scientific glassware. In vitro studies are conducted by separating elements of a life form from their natural biological context in order to facilitate their analysis. This brings to mind Rilke’s recurring meditations on solitude, most notably encountered in his short poem “A Woman’s Fate” where, in speaking of the passages of life, he refers to cherished objects consigned to the “vibrating” or “anxious” stillness of the vitrine / glass capsule.

More ominous is the looming presence of the autoclave, a laboratory tool calibrated to ensure immolation, the extinction of life. The porcelain and face powder flowers, ordered by the structures of the autoclave, imply certainties established through the verities of classification and the methodical nature of arrangement. The sepia tints of the face powder may evoke an album, the visual record of an earlier period.

Rilke wrote Requiem for a Friend over two days and nights, a concentrated and deeply personal ferment, in which he clawed at insights on death and loss. Rilke and the Autoclave began from my own inability to extract words for a similar experience. But, like the adherent repeatedly murmuring a rosary for atonement and palliation, the act of making each porcelain and face powder bloom – the pace and repetition of modelling petal by petal, making the clay thin and thinner, moulded and more moulded – moves attention beyond the personal so that all else falls away.

Hyperclay

Jacqueline Clayton, Rilke and the Autoclave (2011). Porcelain, face powder, laboratory glassware, vintage laboratory hardware; variable dimensions. Photograph: Jacqueline Clayton

Jacqueline Clayton, <i>Rilke and the Autoclave</i> (2011). Porcelain, face powder, laboratory glassware, vintage laboratory hardware; variable dimensions. Photograph: Jacqueline Clayton
Jacqueline Clayton, <i>Rilke and the Autoclave</i> (2011). Porcelain, face powder, laboratory glassware, vintage laboratory hardware; variable dimensions. Photograph: Jacqueline Clayton
Jacqueline Clayton, <i>Rilke and the Autoclave</i> (2011). Porcelain, face powder, laboratory glassware, vintage laboratory hardware; variable dimensions. Photograph: Jacqueline Clayton
Jacqueline Clayton, <i>Rilke and the Autoclave</i> (2011). Porcelain, face powder, laboratory glassware, vintage laboratory hardware; variable dimensions. Photograph: Jacqueline Clayton
Jacqueline Clayton, <i>Rilke and the Autoclave</i> (2011). Porcelain, face powder, laboratory glassware, vintage laboratory hardware; dimensions variable. Photograph: Jacqueline Clayton
Jacqueline Clayton, <i>Rilke and the Autoclave</i> (2011). Porcelain, face powder, laboratory glassware, vintage laboratory hardware; variable dimensions. Photograph: Jacqueline Clayton