Alison Britton, Plattering – Contemporary Art Society

2 March 2023 – 22 April 2023

Upstairs at Corvi-Mora gallery there is a large table set with tableware, made from various oval shapes. On the walls hang similar ceramics. This particular setting plays with what a traditional dining table might look like before a meal: dishes ready to be plated up. Artist, writer, and educator Alison Britton evokes conviviality and communality through her objects.

The dishes are empty highlighting the power of their abstract form. They are sculptures baring the signs and traces of their making. In Red Ripple, 2021, a palette of earthly browns is the background to a dance of painted thick lines of pinks, greens, and blacks. Any attempt to make a distinction between art and craft is redundant. These are painted sculptures, or paintings on ceramics – boundaries are blurred.

References from the history of ceramics are hidden in the works. In Blue-dash Charger, 2023, the contours reference the delftware makers from the 17th and 18th centuries. In Undertow, 2020, a thicker snake-like slab references the plates of Renaissance potter Bernard Palissy, who included reliefs of fish, plants, and reptiles in his dishes. Purely representational, Palissy’s glazes were made of greens, browns and yellows; and the combination of these elements came to be known as ‘pastoral pottery’. The earthly palette of Britton’s work distantly recalls Palissy, and the exclusive abstraction of the plates transports them into another dimension. The contemporary nature of these works integrates the knowledge of craft history – a history Britton, herself, is a part of. In the 1970s, Britton contributed to reform ceramics education in the UK by taking a distance from the traditional studio pottery of Bernard Leach that dominated the field until then.

Britton plays with the meaning of plattering. “Plattering echoes with Shattering”, writes Britton, evoking the noise of broken plates; and continues:

and Flattering; has some sense of flat objects. (and positive compliments)
and Mattering:  clay is matter, as in material.
Mattering suggests having some relevance to life, or being worth having.

Battering:  I hit the clay with a rolling pin in the first stages of making flat sheets for slabbing.

Clattering: the noise of washing up crockery, or piling plates in a stack, or dropping a plate on the floor.

All these verbs describe the atmosphere of this exhibition. The table is set to let the objects carry memories of people and place dear to us, some of which, as Britton reminds us in her work, have given significance to our lives.

Ilaria Puri Purini
Curator of National Programmes

1A Kempsford Rd, London SE11 4NU
Opening Times: Tuesday to Saturday, 11.00– 18.00
Exhibition open until 22 April 2023