Anne Gibbs // Still
Still opened at the Mission Gallery, Swansea in January 2017. It toured to the Ceramic Gallery at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Ruthin Craft Centre and Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre (Cwmbran).
Ceri's introduction to the publication accompanying the exhibition:
Anne Gibbs has a lot to say, quietly and assuredly. Take a moment to stop and observe, take another to stop and consider. Then take the time to think about what you’ve seen and how it’s made you feel. Anne is very good at doing this. Anne notices the still points in our lives. She notices the ever present things and how they change. She recognises that the more we look at things, usually, the more there is to see and how rewarding that can be. Anne makes the time in her personal world to notice things in our collective world. She focuses in. The more she does so the bigger things get. Anne has so much to say about little things, things that all stack up to make our world as we know it.
And I don’t just mean objects, though Anne has plenty to say about how we use different objects in a variety of ways. I also mean experiential things, things felt, personal exchanges, cultural nuances. Anne keenly observes and considers such things and they manifest in her fine ceramic sculptures and suggest myriad connotations. We bring our own experiences to bear when we see Anne’s work too. This affects our viewing and what we take from the work in ways that Anne could not have foreseen. Anne was once asked if she makes work for specific audiences. ‘How can I,’ she replied, ‘how can I know other peoples’ minds?’ She makes according to what she sees and feels in the world. Calmly or provocatively this will resonate with us the viewer.
I find Anne’s work delightfully playful and wittily dark. A smooth, brightly coloured surface is pierced by a sharp pin. Don’t delight for too long, reality awaits. In this way her work is alive with contrasts. There is obvious beauty in the bone china pieces she makes and there can be arresting harshness in the objects she sets with them. Her work seems delicate in form yet has a robust presence. There is joy in Anne’s work yet it is often subverted by a sombre visual reference. Shallow dishes invite interaction yet they are bound and thus prevent us from using them. Unexpected delight and unexpected pain. It is what we come to expect in the world. It is what, for me, Anne’s work explores and celebrates. How honest this exhibition is, her work really is shaped by her life’s experiences.
For Anne, this exhibition is a summary of many different things. Things people have given her, places she’s been, scenes she’s observed and things she’s collected along the way. It is a personal map of sorts and represents her journey thus far. Where next we might enquire? ‘Scale it up’, says Anne, ‘I wonder what would happen if I made things bigger.’ Then we would have an alternative landscape that we could wander through, and not only in our imaginations. I look forward to that. For Anne brings us still life in miniature form, and her still life allows us a moment of calm, a moment to stop and think.
In Anne Gibbs’ exhibition Still we have the last in our current series of The Language of Clay. Anna Noël’s figurative ceramics delighted us in their telling of tales. Micki Schloessingk’s wood fired pots have brought pleasure everyday in their use. The work of each of the artists displays skills and application honed by dedication and knowledge. Knowledge of an age-old medium with qualities that continue to endure.