Fiona Byrne-Sutton - Fiona Byrne-Sutton
The Angel's Share - current work
An unsuspecting late teen visits Giotto di Bondone’s Scrovegni Chapel frescoes (1303-1305), in Padua Italy. She stumbles upon Duccio di Buoninsegna’s Maesta (1308-1311) in Siena Cathedral. Forty years on my freestanding ceramic assemblages imaginatively explore the emotional space induced by the chapel and the “Maesta” and the place they fill across 700 years. I call the poetics of this felicitous place, “The Angel’s Share,” the name given to that portion of spirit lost to evaporation as monkish distillers popularised “acqua vitae” throughout Christendom.
At the same time my material process engages with modernism’s formalist legacy through the deconstruction of narrative into discrete components, colour, visible process (press moulded raw ceramic, mono-printing, collagraphy) and the repetition of minimalist rectangles. The interior of a duchess teacup and textures adapted from embossed wall paper make allusion to design history, as does the combination of press moulded and slip cast ceramic.
I distil time and place through material process and the deconstruction of ceramic narrative. My crystocal plinth creates a place, an arena to explore this immateriality. Slip cast beakers and emblems are actors who regroup in and around a trio of press moulded rectangles, guiding the eye up, down or across as in Duccio’s square paintings. Thus Golden Gate (after Giotto) is informed by Giotto’s fresco “Meeting at the Golden Gate.” Here a figure shrouded in black watches Anna and Joachim embrace. The assemblage is my response to the couple’s deep gaze, often cited as the first time human prescience has a place in Western art. In my assemblage, the press moulded freestanding terracotta rectangle, mirrors the form of Giotto’s city gate. My use of colour is semiotic. The rectangle’s earth colour is temporal. A green figure is witness. With my black beaker prescience becomes engraved volume.
Repeating forms and the spaces in between are fixations in time as is the solitary compressing of clay. The windows, the recesses, the teacup interior are inversions of each other for these singular forms are also huts, a core image of inhabiting, of dreaming solitude. Clay’s material substance is unbounded time and space made visceral. The spectator's origining imagination inhabits and reinvents the forms, the material and processes, locating the angel’s share as a place within themselves, simultaneously vast and intimate. At the same time, solid press moulded clay is unexpectedly weighty, its gravity is reflexive, making us suddenly aware of our body in space. Metaphysical space is this place.
Made in Scotland, The Angel’s Share frame of reference looks outward across Europe, it is a distillation of our common cultural heritage.
Bunaite, 7 Ferindonald, Teangue, Sleat, the Isle of Skye, Highlands and Islands IV44 8RF
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