15 January – 1 April 2016, ARB atrium
Private View 5 February 2016, 6.00 – 8.00 pm
Force Majeure, French for a superior or irresistible power, is a term used in the writing of legal contracts, to free both parties from obligation in the face of extraordinary natural events or disasters, from war to hurricanes or earthquakes.
The ceramic work Mella Shaw is showing in this exhibition is concerned with moments of transition, tipping points, thresholds and edges. All the work is painstakingly hand-built from small component parts of colourfully stained porcelain. Shaw exploits porcelain’s material quality of pyroplasticity, where the clay body sags, warps or bends in the kiln when fired at high temperature. She is particularly interested in the moment when clay vitrifies into ceramics, where an object loses its order and momentarily gives way to chaos and chance, in the dark behind the closed doors of a kiln. The resulting forms are reminiscent of otherworldly ruins, caught on the verge of collapse.
Mella is Exhibitions Manager at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, a role she combines with her own practice as an artist/maker, and with teaching and writing about ceramics. In 2013 she graduated with Distinction from the MA Ceramics and Glass, Royal College of Art, London, and was profiled in Crafts magazine, Ceramic Review and Axisweb. Residencies include three months at Konstfack in Stockholm, Sweden, and a year as artist-in-residence and tutor at University of the Creative Arts, Farnham. Recent exhibitions include a solo exhibition at Kaolin Gallery, Stockholm, showing at both London and Milan Design Weeks and by Sarah Myerscough Gallery at STRARTA Art Fair, Saatchi Gallery, London. Mella exhibited at the British Ceramics Biennial 2015 as one of 11 artists selected to represent the best of contemporary British ceramics in their centrepiece AWARD show. She has recently been featured in Wallpaper* magazine and on BBC news as well as being selected by Culture24 as one of “10 artists you should be collecting now”.