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Nathan Anthony – Artist in Residence

Thursday 05 July 2018

The opening night of Nathan’s exhibition ‘Half Time’ on 27 June at Christ’s Hospital went “very well, with friends from London attending, alongside staff and pupils.”

The exhibition was called ‘Half Time’ as Nathan is halfway through his residency at CH and because references to sport are a recurrent strand running through his work. From vases resembling American footballs, and deflated ceramic basketballs, to a series of cyanotype prints on the wall “whose shapes and patterns seem to resemble a sports team’s kit shirts”.

Nathan describes his work:

“The cyanotypes –  a project called ‘Junk Mail’ – are prints of the intricate interior patterns found inside security envelopes. They are displayed close together in a grid formation to draw attention to the different designs that exist in each one, which seem to resemble the decorative geometric motifs of Islamic art.

For a throw-away item, such elaborate designs seems superfluous for their function (to visually obscure an envelope’s content). Without their practical use, and seen all together, they hopefully become a thing of incidental beauty.  

‘Expenses’, are a series of fired porcelain slithers, onto which images of my own scrunched-up receipts are printed using ceramic transfers. Ceramics can be a frustrating medium to work in, as when they are wet and drying out, they can buckle. In this work, I exaggerated these inherent warping properties to make the porcelain resemble crumpled receipt papers. I think they become an oblique portrait of a person who has made the purchase as they tell you about them; what they bought, the date, the time. It’s a commemoration of a confessional everyday occurrence.

The series of basketballs getting progressively more deflated has the title ‘Pfft…’ text jargon used to dismiss something, but a sound that also seems to describe the noise of something deflating. They are slip cast, a process where you make a plaster mould of an object, into which you pour slip (liquid clay). This is left until a sufficiently thick clay wall that lines the interior of the plaster void has built up. The excess is poured out, and after drying you have a replica of the object in clay. When it emerges from the mould the hollow ball-form is perfect, but still wet enough to allow you to crush and deform the object to appear deflated.   

The vases, called ‘Ode’s on Grecian’s Urns’ are also slip cast. They are American footballs but with different spouts resembling a ‘kicking cone’ one way up, but a vase neck the other. The spout idea came from the channel you leave during slip casting.  I decided to make a decorative feature of this. I’ve also, used different style balls with varying treads or grips that relate back to the envelope interior patterns.

During the year, I have mainly taught juniors and have not been too constrained by the curriculum. Some of the projects we undertook included constructing drawing instruments using bamboo, string and leaves and finding tools that would make interesting marks. I invited the pupils to look at everyday objects, and to be resourceful with what they are given, which does bear a resemblance to projects explored in ‘Half Time’.

Current pupils Adela and Annabel’s thoughts on the Artist in Residence exhibition:

“Nathan’s talk on his work was inspiring and we thoroughly enjoyed going to the opening of his show. The receipt project in particular felt as if you were given an intimate glimpse, almost a self-portrait, of its owner and perhaps we shouldn’t be reading it. Nathan’s private studio was also open. This space is not usually accessible to pupils and it was interesting to see his work in the making. It was as if he had walked out in the middle of a project and left his collection of moulds, pots and scattered photos of silhouettes.”

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