Shifting Lines opened at the Mission Gallery in Swansea in January 2018. It will tour to Ruthin Craft Centre, Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre, the Ceramic Gallery at Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Craft in the Bay.
Ceri's introduction to the publication accompanying the exhibition:
Justine Allison’s intricately made vessels are eloquent and uplifting. Effectively so because of their unassuming presence. Light is attracted to them, held, and radiates from them. There is a quietude to Justine’s work that reflects both the meditative process of its making and the grace of the finished forms. They are not perfect, they are precise. They have strong lines and soft colours. They are fixed forms that convey movement. They are vessels that make us hold our breath.
Lines from land and urban strata are in the fabric and decoration of Justine’s vessels. The lines drawn into the clay as well as the ceramic edges evoke movement in each piece. The vessels shift as they are built, settle as they dry and alter again as they are fired. They have a poise born out of the fragility of their material and the robustness of its qualities. Porcelain is a very fine clay body to manipulate and Justine does so with skilful tenacity. Once it is fired to a high temperature, vitrified, it is stable and strong and luminescent.
Families of vessels have familiar traits and pleasing differences. They sit comfortably in groups, chime as pairs or sing out as individual pieces. The seemingly most simple of small, cupped bowls can be utterly alluring. Justine applies gold leaf to the inside surface of select small bowls. This gives an ethereal quality that can dazzle.
Form, for Justine, is paramount. Function is a driving motivation, but it is the aesthetics of a piece that are key to her making. Taking a functional vessel, such as a jug or a spoon, as a starting point, Justine will work her thinly rolled sheets of porcelain at just the right pace to capture the form. She describes it as drawing with the clay. Like a drawing, the marks of making remain. Lines, stripes, rubbed colour, lettering, hemp twine, gold leaf or palladium, any of these contribute to the considered aesthetic of finished jugs, pots, bowls and spoons.
Justine has her own language of clay. Balanced between functional and sculptural, her ceramic practice is rich and original. With a profound understanding of her materials and a honed visual aesthetic, Justine’s vessels are resolved. It is such a pleasure to have this solo show by Justine as the opening exhibition in the second series of The Language of Clay. It expands the dialogue presented through the first series and celebrates singular expertise.
'The sun shines through the dusty windows of Justine Allison’s rural workshop in mid Wales. But there is nothing rustic about the refined porcelain vessels that are caught in the light. Hand-built from thin slabs of clay she creates precise forms - beakers, pourers and sharp-edged vases decorated minimally with line. Justine Allison’s ceramics are skilfully made, precious to touch and a delight to the eye.'
Professor Moira Vincentelli
Consultant Curator of Ceramics, Aberystwyth University