Deirdre McLoughlin, White Life III

Dublin-born McLoughlin is based in Amsterdam but honed her skills as a ceramicist during the 1980s in Japan, where the term ceramic sculpture is not considered an oxymoron.

This exhibition of recent work presents bull-nosed containers with a gently mottled surface alongside smooth yet tough biomorphic forms.

Several of her brown, grey and terracotta-coloured vessels (including Big Nose and Little Bear) have closed spouts or blunt, rounded handles. They recall weathered mooring posts until a peep inside reveals a shiny, wet-looking inner base, a hidden glaze that returns them to their pot-like origins without diminishing their curiously humanoid qualities. Sceitimini and Red Life owe a debt to ancient fertility symbols, their curves echoing a pregnant belly and thighs.

Burstingness recalls a body trapped inside a membrane, while White Life III buries its lumps under a smooth glacial blanket. Body-map meets landscape in objects like these, while her “I am too” series of goblets propped on simple holding stems reaffirm the natural, pared-down elegance of her vision.

Cristín Leach Hughes

Shaping the Void is at the National Craft Gallery, Kilkenny, 20 January – 21 March 2012.

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