ART & PERFORMANCES
Shedding Skin, 2021 (France)
"A thick layer of soft, white clay on the floor of my studio was first shaped into a sculptural and undulating ‘landscape’. It was consequently covered with a ‘skin,’ consisting of a thin layer of wool drenched in red clay slip mixed with a glue made of boiled flour. The skin softened the shapes of the clay. After the skin was nearly dry, I stripped the skin of the clay during a two-day performance. The clay shed its skin." With support of the Mondriaan Fund and Ocres Chauvin.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams, 2016 (Alkmaar, the Netherlands)
"For the exhibition Cave of Forgotten Dreams, curated by Gerda Kruimer, I made an imprint on fabric of body imprints in clay. Dimensions: 6,50 m x 2,50 m. The invitation letter for participation in the exhibition stated: 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams is the title of a film by Werner Herzog about the caves of Chauvet Pont d’Arc in the Ardêche, France in which 32000 year old wall paintings have been found. Let the title of his film inspire you to make a work using charcoal as your basic material'."
Clay, 1991 (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)
Performance in Tbilisi (Georgia, 2018)
"Performance at the Contemporary Art Gallery of the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi, Georgia. The 3 day performance was part of the exhibition "A Mad Tea Party" by Lia Bagrationi. Each day a different colour clay slip was used: Day 1 plain clay slip, Day 2 five kilos of black iron oxide was added to the slip, Day 3 five kilos of red iron oxide was added to the slip." The photos were taken by: Mari Ataneli and Otar Vepkhvadze.
Clay Gulgong 2016 (Gulgong, NSW Australia)
"Gulgong has hosted an international ceramics festival every three years since 1989. Initiated by the late Janet Mansfield, it is now organized by her son Neil Mansfield and his wife Bernadette Mansfield. I was invited to realize a large scale site specific fired clay work in the sculpture park Morning View, just outside Gulgong. The region surrounding Gulgong has a massive resource of clay. These deposits have been mined over many years for industrial use. The 10 tons of clay for my project were a mixture of locally mined kaolin and red clay dug straight form the earth at Morning View. Different percentages of the two clays were used in the various batches mixed. This created a variety of colours which were consequently blended by my body shaping the clay. The work has been fired by stacking wood from the Eucalyptus trees around the area on top of it, only covered by corrugated sheets." Photos raw clay: Bronwyn Kemp. Photos fired work: Simon Reece.
Regis Center of Arts , 2019 (Minneapolis, MN, USA)
"Site-specific raw clay installation with imprint, realized at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery of the Regis Center for Art in Minneapolis. It was part of the exhibition "The Form Will Find Its Way: Contemporary Ceramic Sculptural Abstraction", curated by Elizabeth Carpenter. My project was made possible with support from the Harlan Boss Foundation for the Arts and Continental Clay Company."
Large Kiln Sculpture, 2015 (St. Martin de Salencey, France)
"This large sculpture was shaped directly in my wood-firing trench kiln and subsequently fired. It is made of St. Amant-de-Puissaye stoneware clay. While drying it cracked into large pieces. These were taken out of the kiln and reassembled in the exhibition space of Centre Keramis, La Louvière, Belgium. The differences in temperature throughout the kiln brought out the whole range of colours concealed in the dark grey raw clay. The path of the flame is visible in the finished work. Dimensions: length: 4.50 m, width: 2.30 m."
La Fonderie, 2011 (Carouge, Switzerland)
"In les Halles de la Fonderie, the huge industrial space of an old foundry, I worked for a week with 10 tons of clay from the brick factory Bardonnex SA. This project was part of the exhibition CERAMICS NOW!, itself part of the 12e Parcours Céramique Carougeois in Switzerland." Photos: Danièle Gardyn.
Oorsprong, 2017 (Finsterwolde, the Netherlands)
"2017 marked the 10 anniversary of the farmer and gallery owner's, Albert Waalkens, death. That April an occasion to remember the meaning of this remarkable 'Groninger', the farmer, who in the turbulent 1960s was figurehead and catalyst for the arts, land-art in particular, in Finsterwolde, Groningen and the Netherlands. In 2000 I spent two months as a resident at his gallery, after which Carrie de Swaan made the film 'Tracks in the flats' in the nearby Dollard. I, as well as Merijn Vrij and Marc van Vliet, have been invited to come back to this special place to realise a large scale land-art project. In the meadow at the back of Gallery Waalkens a large bowl-like shape was dug, 33 meters long, 23 meters wide and 2,60 high in the middle. On the slopes of this basin 50 cubic meters of rough clay, dug up from a nearby field, were deposited. During 4 days I worked and shaped this unyielding material, in collaboration with Julia Stehling. The amount and roughness of the clay made us very aware of our human frailness in relation to the powers of nature. On June 17th we did a performance during Art Manifestation ‘Rondom Waalkens’, organised by Stichting Bewogen Aarde. With support of the Mondriaan Fund." www.oldambtcultuur.nl/programma
Reclaim, 2011 (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia)
"In the courtyard of the old Jam Factory in which the Tasmanian School of the Arts in Hobart is housed, I worked during a week with a field of yellow clay, straight from the quarry and feet wedged by the students of the sculpture department. A film has been made by Glen Dunn. The project was an initiative of Creative Arts - Tasmanian Polytechnic, supported by the School of Art - University of Tasmania and sponsored by the Pathways Project." See Motion.
Sonorité d'Argile, 2013 (Ciry-le-Noble, France)
"'Sonorité d'Argile’, a performance in collaboration with Dutch saxophonist, clarinettist and shakuhachi player Ab Baars, took place on August 9, 2013, at La Briqueterie in Ciry-le-Noble, France. The deserted brick-factory, now a museum, was not long-ago part of a thriving industry. By using raw clay, the material on which this industry was based, in a poetic project, our performance became part of the effort to give location and material a new part in the history of the region. 25 tons of clay directly from the quarry was deposited in the basin previously used for storage of coal for the big kilns. Children and adults from around the area came to help with the preparation of the clay. Ab Baars: 'In my music, in the improvisations, I search continuously for the unpolished, the disruptive, the abrasive. While improvising, groping, stumbling, I form my material. The way Alexandra Engelfriet works with raw clay, kneading, beating and kicking it, often with a rugged, rough structure as an end result, is interesting and inspiring. Because of this relationship I am excited about this collaborative project.'" Photos: Bertrand Lauprête, Emilie Fèvre and Fréderic Camut.
Dust to Dust, 2011 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
"Clay is the material from which everything arises and into which everything returns. With 7 tons of earthy clay straight from the Kleine Gelderse Waard, the last river wash-land in the Netherlands that wasn’t flooded at that time, I realized a sculpture/installation/film project in the space of Punt WG in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in collaboration with filmmaker Marlou van den Berge. The film closely follows the process of the wetting and kneading of the clay to make it workable and the development of the work in the space. The tendency of the sloppy material to fall apart and the fabric needed to keep it together, became the leading elements in the process. Helena Goldwater: 'The film follows the actions and repetitions with the clay that are simple in their execution, but there is a complexity in the potentiality of meaning. The corporeal and visceral come through and lead towards an intimate work but also devastating in terms of life and death; horror on personal and wider scales.'" See also under Motion.
White Clay, 12 tons (Burgundy, France)
"The summer of 2019 I spent with 12 tons of local white clay in the rough space of my studio, an old barn next to my house in a village in Burgundy, France. Immersing in the deep mass of clay day after day, it kept changing shape. On some days the going was tough. The clay started to harden during the heat waves, kneading it soft again with my feet, knee or ankle deep was hard work. But the clay was deliciously soft and cool on other days, so sensitive to the touch it took over the minutest detail of my skin, becoming like skin itself. These images show different states of the clay during the process."