Superglue Plate, 2014
The mends I made as a child were playful, rough and amateur: visually, you could see my young hand. This aesthetic has not left me or my work.
Superglue and I have a long history. It lived in the drawer of stuff, the drawer where the string ends, odd pegs, letter openers, the random-detritus-of-life drawer. Really, it was a bricoleurs heaven – when I needed something for something, it was there I would find it. The superglue would be in there, in a crumpled metal tube, with a pin in its long nozzle to prevent it from blocking. Always, I would hold the tube too hard in my concentration; too much glue would come out, on my hands, my clothes, the thing I was trying to glue, but never in the place it was meant to.
My Grampa, with his calm approach and steady hands would have to take over, explaining the intricacies of glueing, of repairing. I understood them, and still do – the logic of sealing the surface with a thin layer of glue, of propping the parts before you start, that dirty edges lead to a dirty join – but no matter how hard I tried then and try now (or don’t try!), the result is the same – glue everywhere, me stuck to me, object still broken, still in need of repair.
This plate is a testament and an opposition to that, its dirty join clearly showing. However, it is joined, it is one again. Would I trust it hold to my cup? I'm not sure - the roughness of my join implies a lack of strength to me. Yet I know that superglue is strong.
'But even the fired pot stands in the long narrative of these transformations with only its own authenticity. For it too will disappear; it will be sold or given away. It will almost certainly be broken in time. The shards will then stand with their own special charm and symbolism. They may even be pounded up for grog and thus enter bodily in to the process at another beginning point. Or they may be turned into mosaic for yet another experience of form.
And though shapes change, though each moment dies into the next, though no thing is being made to last, something is happening Each moment bears life forwards'
Mary C Richards, from an excerpt from Centering (1966), p208 of The Craft Reader (ed. G. Adamson, 2010)*
Although Mary C Richards sees the life of the material carrying on, even after the form has been broken, she does not mention repair here. If we are expanding our way of being through (in a controlled way) the objects we own**, what does keeping and repairing them say?
The notion of mosaic-ing resonates with repairing. The charm and symbolism that Richards mentions, continue in their actual form (shards) as material rather than as a renewed composite in the original material (grog, clay), and presumably shed and gather further charm and symbolism along the way. In this plate repair, the object has journeyed from material (clay) to material-with-form (plate) to form-as-material (shards) to material-with-form (plate) again. As such it has a different message. Is this a message of resistance? sentiment? thriftiness? need? dirtiness? I think it depends on the object viewer.
*Richards speaks about the relationship between the centering of clay on the wheel, and the centering of the self in life, the transformations of clay and the experiences of metamorphoses in nature.
**see Baudrillard's A Marginal System: Collecting in The System of Objects, 1968