Sara Flynn, Erskine Hall & Coe, London

14 November to 06 December

Erskine, Hall & Coe Ltd


How artists locate themselves within a wider community of practice may bring insight to their inspiration as well as some of the imperatives that sustain them.  Sara Flynn belongs to a generation of Irish ceramic artists who are confidently engaging with an international audience and whose work stylistically is far removed from the rustic traditional crafts, which are often closely associated with tourism and in Ireland are charged with a particularly powerful cultural/national identity.  It is then surprising to learn that Flynn is not from the city but works in picturesque rural isolation on the very western edge of Europe.   As many Irish have done she looks westward to the future, her work and life style being a measure of how heterogeneous craft practice has become.  Her pots are not emblematic of a rural idyll nor in any conscious way are they influenced by the visual landscape in which she works.  There is however a relationship between Flynn’s vessels and the place she chooses to make them.  It is not a topographical relationship but the quality of solitude that supports focused reflection so necessary for some kinds of art practice.

Flynn’s work reveals some of the characteristics of Hans Coper’s work; a potter she has greatly admired throughout her ceramic career.  There is an obsessive passion for clay’s unique qualities, a sustaining fascination with the “thingness” of vessels as abstract forms largely unrelated to utilitarian pots which serve our bodily needs.  Coper’s famous thought that he was: ”like a demented piano tuner seeking the perfect pitch” is an appropriate way to understand Flynn’s practice relaying as it does on just a few key element.

All Flynn’s work is thrown porcelain.  With modernist concerns such as truth to material and process we are used to ‘read’ how things are made.  We are familiar with the ‘vocabulary’ of construction with resistant materials and reductive processes such as carving or the results of casting with liquids.  But the use of plastic or viscous material with its shifting identity is encountered less often in our daily lives and the aesthetics of displacement seem more mysterious, Flynn’s exploration of form is not confined by the wheel but develops often asymmetrically from the rhythms of throwing, the line of the rim often being particularly important.   The soft clay forms are squeezed, indented or pinched to enhance fluidity and establish an individual identity.  Flynn’s creativity is focused in the act of working with plastic clay; any subsequent work is at its service.


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