For his most ambitious project to date, South Australian ceramicist Gerry Wedd will present 200 handcrafted delft-style tiles, wall plates and pottery as part of the immersive installation SONGS FOR A ROOM.
Inspired by trips to Mexico as well as Victor Hugo’s extravagantly decorated Hauteville House in Guernsey, the installation continues Wedd’s focus on the domestic space as he sets out to create a type of shelter inside ACE Open.
“I thought the only person I could make a shelter for is me,” Wedd says. “So the initial idea was to make a space specifically for me but that would hopefully have enough interest to not be completely indulgent.”
Like previous work, SONGS FOR A ROOM includes social commentary and is influenced by song lyrics. The tiles have been decorated using domestic imagery and lyrics taken out of context to resemble the framed pieces of text you often find in a domestic setting that might say something like, ‘Home Sweet Home’.
“In lots of ways this work is a whole lot of my thoughts, as well as the songs coming into my head and the news stories on Radio National, all meeting and turning into a more immersive work than I have ever made before,” Wedd says.
Wedd started reflecting on the fact he was making a shelter while creating the work. This led him to think about people who are without cover.
“I thought it’s a bit cynical to build a shelter that’s only going to be up for a while and that no one would benefit from,” he says. “As I result I started doing images of people who are doing it tough in some way or other.”
Like much of Wedd’s work, these tiles include double meanings or visual puns. For example, there are a couple of tiles that feature images of shopping trolleys, which are used for a number of different purposes by rich and poor.
The tiles are hand-made in Wedd’s signature blue and white Delft style, which he is attracted to because it has a rich history. It is an artistic style that many cultures have used, including the Dutch, Chinese, Persians, Spanish and Mexicans.
“There is something nice about handmaking all these things that a factory mass-produces,” Wedd says. “You feel like you are contributing but you’re not overdoing it, there is no oversupply.”
Creating the works for SONGS FOR A ROOM has been a different experience for Wedd. Usually when he creates a pot, he draws it and designs the images and text, before firing it up. “I know the outcome and I have complete control over what goes into the exhibition,” he says.
“This is more open-ended. I have made all these different things but there are infinite variations of how these things can be placed together. So you end up thinking in a slightly different way. You have to leave yourself open to decisions made in the moment.”
Gerry Wedd: SONGS FOR A ROOM
Saturday, July 28 to Saturday, September 15
Feature image credit: Michael Mason