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Account of the Scholarly Exhibition at the Centre of Ceramic Studies, Cardiff


Claire Curneen Statement

Saints are usually remembered for the manner of their death: one extreme, ultimate agony. Curneen’s saints, rather than appealing to others to follow them on the path to martyrdom, are consoling presences. They have suffered pain, but now they have no fear of it. The wounds on their bodies are hardly even disfiguring; they have survived their ordeal all-but-intact. They stand before us now, as vulnerable as ever, yet possessed of an inner strength. They may be hollow clay, but who could deny their more-than-material life?' Timothy Wilcox 2003 (extract from 'Succour' catalogue).

‘Crown’ differs in construction to my other works, in particular signature pieces as Standings Figures and Martyr Saints, which are hand built from porcelain. The slip casting process in 'Crown' opens up possibilities where the liquid clay is captured in its original state with little intervention. The spilt gold is a record of the forms interiority, sayings such as, 'its worth its weight in gold' comes to mind. The piece moves between the purely physical to the metaphorical. It's tightly knit circle of twelve pairs of hands are pressed together as if grappling for position, suggesting collective prayer or a family unit, and at the same time, reminiscent of a church rose window or a wreath of flowers, for celebrating or for mourning. There is a sense of order in the arrangement which contradicts the seeping gold fluid. This gold, which seeps from the interiors, is evidence of their making, they are ‘spilling their guts’. I want the viewer to be drawn to the gold, to convey the value of the interior over the exterior.

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University of Wales Intitute, cardiff | Adorfa Prifysgol Cymru, Caerdydd