Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things


At the weekend we took a break from packing up the orders from our online shop and headed to The Hepworth, Wakefield, to take a look at the Magdalene Odundo exhibition, The Journey Of Things

I hadn’t really known much about Odundo’s works previous to the exhibition, although her style is distinctive and instantly recognisable, and I was keen to see these extraordinary looking pots in the flesh. 

Odundo’s ceramic works appear almost as if landed from another planet, bodily vessels, frozen in motion, hand built from terracotta and burnished meticulously using the ancient slip technique of terra sigillata. The pieces are fired at a low temperature I believe. The technique is ancient and simple, but slow, and I can’t imagine very forgiving. Looking at the pots in great detail, I can’t believe how well crafted they are - Odundo is an extremely skilled sculptor. The pots look ancient and modern all at once, somehow futuristic, metallic and sleek, and there is little trace of the hand of the maker left upon the finished pot. 

Exhibited alongside Odundo’s pieces are artefacts, objects and artworks which offer us a journey through her varied and diverse inspirations, from British Studio Pottery to ancient ceramic artefacts from Africa to Elizabethan textiles and sculpture by such names as Degas and Rodin. 

We really enjoyed the exhibition, which was designed by architect Farshid Moussavi OBE - the display and curation was really successful in displaying a rather eclectic mix of pieces in a thought provoking way without being too formulaic or ‘museum-ish’.

Now I just want to go and try make some terra sigillata and burnish clay….


Catherine WestComment