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Introducing Christopher Russell: Mastering Clay's Endless Possibilities in Art.

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

In a day and age where creativity knows no bounds, ceramics are experiencing a renaissance that spans both the aspirational and mainstream realms. This revival challenges the age-old perception of ceramics as fusty relics, propelling them into the realm of coveted and cutting-edge art.

The renewed interest in ceramics stems from its sheer versatility. It encompasses a plethora of techniques, from hand-sculpted pots and slab pots to those crafted through coiling and pinching methods or using plaster press moulds. Once artists master these techniques, the realm of experimentation beckons, as ceramics' fluid and unpredictable nature welcomes innovation.

Beyond their aesthetic appeal, ceramics have captivated hearts and minds due to their multisensory allure. Whether encountered as raw, wet, malleable clay or as a sleek, glazed surface, ceramics exude a warm and tactile quality that proves irresistible.

Ceramic art stands as a unique form of artistic expression, harnessed from various mediums, including clay and water. What sets ceramics apart is their endurance, typically achieved through firing in a kiln, rendering them more durable than many other art forms. The creation of ceramic sculptures involves numerous techniques, with slip casting reigning supreme, enabling artists to mould shapes and sizes to their artistic whims.

In essence, ceramic art sculptures serve as a medium of expression, permitting artists to cover expansive spaces with their creativity and ideas. The beauty lies in their versatility, unlike other artistic media such as painting or drawing. Ceramics find utility as home decor pieces, and pottery can seamlessly transition into functional furniture, adorning homes as vases or bowls.

Ceramic art sculptures captivate through their tactile nature. The rough texture, shaped by an artist's skilled fingers, adds an extra dimension, allowing viewers to feel the ridges and contours. Vibrant colours, especially when hand-painted or adorned with a glossy glaze, command attention, making ceramic artwork visually captivating.

What we have grown to appreciate about ceramic art is that it possesses an alluring mystique. Unlike painting, where you can discern the artist's brushwork and colour application, ceramics delve into the realm of chemistry and diverse glazes, offering no solid foundation for understanding. Some artists argue that the finest ceramicists are essentially chemists, adding an enigmatic layer to this captivating art form.

One of these “chemists” who channels his alchemy in the creation of ceramics is Christopher Russell.

For more than three decades, Christopher Russell has been shaping the world of ceramics with his profound talent and boundless curiosity. In his latest creations, a mesmerizing fusion of structure and decoration, Russell ventures into uncharted territories, pushing the boundaries of what ceramics can achieve. Each of his unique pieces stands as an artwork in its own right while seamlessly enhancing interior and architectural spaces.

Russell appears to find inspiration in the diverse tapestry of the world around him. His inquisitiveness leads him down a multifaceted path, drawing insights from art history, architecture, decorative arts, literature, botany, and countless other realms that catch his discerning eye. This rich tapestry of interests infuses his ceramics with an unexpected and captivating visual amalgamation.

Apart from his personal creations, Russell is no stranger to commissions and collaborations. His collaborative ventures with designers and clients have yielded stunning tile installations and custom vessels for private residences. Notably, he received a prestigious commission from the MTA Office of Art and Design to create a series of bronze sculptures for the historic 9th Avenue subway station in Brooklyn, known as the "Bees for Sunset Park," which now greet hundreds of commuters daily. Another remarkable public installation is at NYU Langone Hospital, where he was commissioned to craft a ceramic wall painting for their Bay Ridge Campus.

Russell's artistic journey has also seen him earn coveted spots at renowned residency programs, including the KOHLER ART CENTER in Wisconsin and the Watershed Centre for the Ceramic Arts in Maine.

In addition to his solo exhibitions, Russell's art has graced numerous group shows and fair exhibitions, leaving a trail of awe-struck admirers. His creations have adorned spaces like The Bernardaud Foundation in Limoges, France, the Royal West Academy in Bristol, England, Deutsche Bank in New York City, Paul Robeson Gallery at Rutgers University, and the esteemed Wave Hill public gardens in The Bronx, New York.

Ceramics Awaken in Table Lamp Form

Within the unassuming guise of a table lamp, ceramics take on a vibrant new existence. The introduction of light breathes fresh life into these earthen creations, unveiling their glazes in a mesmerizing dance of illumination. They cease to be mere lamps; they become luminous artworks.

We do dig Christopher Russell's lamps.

When bathed in light, Russell's creation undergo a captivating transformation. Glazes, once dormant, burst forth with newfound vitality. They shimmer and glow, their colors unfolding like blossoms in a sun-dappled garden. The very textures, whether glossy or matte, emerge from obscurity, captivating the observer's senses.

But here's the magic: every lamp is a masterpiece unto itself. These lamps are meticulously hand-built from glazed terracotta, each possessing its own unique character. They stand tall atop custom-lathed poplar necks and finials, the result of artisanal craftsmanship. And just as the sun continues to rise, there are always more of these enchanting creations emerging from the kiln, each one waiting to be discovered.

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Words by AW.

Photos courtesy of Christopher Russell.


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