Pottery is one of the world’s oldest art forms, and occupies a place in nearly every culture’s past and present. Undoubtedly, this is in part due to its functional, as well as decorative, value; a point that the art critic and poet Hugh Gordon Porteus made in his essay The Art of the Potter (1950s), where he describes clay vessels as ‘daughters of necessity’.
This phrase forms the inspiration behind The Hepworth’s upcoming exhibition, Daughters of Necessity, curated by British sound, sculpture and performance artist Serena Korda. Departing from Porteus’s words, Korda has delved into The Hepworth’s rich and eclectic collection of ceramics (made by some of the great names of modern pottery, including Hans Coper, Lucy Rie and Albert Wainwright) to explore their history and variety of uses, and probe the blurred intersection between art and utility, using sound.
The exhibition will also contain a new, ceramic-based interactive installation work by Korda made using ‘alchemical’ processes that embrace the themes of risk and failure embedded in the story of Ananke – the Greek mythological goddess of necessity and fate who gave birth to three daughters (the Daughters of Necessity).
In addition, visitors will have the opportunity to experience Korda’s acclaimed artwork; Hold Fast, Stand Sure, I Scream a Revolution, which premiered at Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art in 2016. Consisting of a series of 29 individual porcelain mushrooms suspended from the ceiling, the piece draws on the “radical mycology” of the fungal specimen as a lens through which to examine the countercultural history and current political fervour of Scotland. As such, the exhibition also pushes the connection between ‘art and utility’ a stage further; exploring art’s practical function as a tool to discuss and communicate ideas without necessarily relying upon the use of words.