Dr. Natasha Mayo- The Sensorial Object

This Lecture by Dr. Natasha Mayo was quite a lot to take in and at first I was a bit confused abut what the lecture was actually about but as the lecture continued and after a review of the lecture recording, I realised it was actually quite a interesting topic she was addressing. She was looking at how we experience and sense an object when we look at it in an exhibition. She did this through her own exhibition she curated in Craft In The Bay called The Sensorial Object.

She began by looking at looking at the object itself and how that was created by the artist. Looking at various artist as example she demonstrated how they used materials to further the understanding of the human form and how the material can extend the meaning and context of a piece of art. The artists therefore explored the human form each in vary different ways even when presented with the same stimulus. They weren’t exploring the human form by exploring pose or the shape of figure but by the material value and what those material values portrayed. She said the the title was therefore triggered by a fascination in material values and how the material you use can speak, conveying meaning and extend the expressive potential of the object that it portrayed. An example of this was Sabine Heller working from a pile of clay bricks and hacking into this pile and creating a mother and child form out of it. This piece explored the fusion between humans and their environment and was looking at the industrial nature in rural Germany with the bricks representing the factory bricks and the human form emerging out of this pile of factory built bricks. Another example of this is Babette Martini who created a set of hands out of terracotta clay and dipped them in a slip and concrete mix so when they were fired it peeled away. The context to here work was similar to Heller ‘s work, commenting on how the factory workers hands, due to the bad working environments would actually begin to decay and break down. But instead of showing this in a guts and gore way by making a pile of them or something like that, she very neatly displayed them on the wall in the same sort of order and precision that you find in the factory. Both artist used the materials that they were working in to extend the contexts of the pieces.




Mayo went on to talk about the venue. There is usually a pre-requisition of a exhibition program. With Craft In The Bay this is to sell work, accord with the permanent exhibition and then to push the boundaries of craft. She produced a catalogue to go with the exhibition as with most exhibitions, but she wanted this catalogue to go further than the usual small bit of text to go with the artist work, to help us further understand the object and its context; to extend enquiry of exhibition, with the purpose to inform and provoke sensory expression and enhance ability to perceive sensorial connections in response to the object. She also got some theorist together to expose ways we might understand the power of objects to speak beyond form and function and help us trigger sensory experiences helping us understand the sensorial potential of the artwork. By having theorist in the catalogue it extends the debate about the object in addition to the contribution from the artist themselves. An example of a theorist in the catalogue is Jodie Allison who wrote about movement when viewing an art piece; how we could enhance our perception of of an object by viewing it from different angles, perspectives, distances and perceiving our sensorial sensations as we make these adjustments; how this can change our perceptions of the object. This actually links in with a project I did on my foundation where I made an object which you would could only get the full meaning of the object if you walked all the way around it, if you just viewed it from one angle you wouldn’t understand what it said, so I found this relevant to me. Dot Young was another theorist who wrote on this topic. She spoke about the aurality of an object and how sound can further the experience and context of the object, to help us live in to what the artist was trying to portray, giving us another sensory experience.

Finally, an artist who I thought was interesting that was displaying there was Garath Dobb, who used the sense of taste. He took food and changed its taste but kept its appearance to turn our sensory experiences upside down. So, he took a boiled egg and replaced the white with vanilla and the yoke with mango puree inside a gelatine ball. So when one eats it we expect to taste egg because thats what it looks like, but we taste something completely different.

I thought this lecture was interesting and relevant to me because I love the exploration of materials and how we can use them to make an object speak, as well as the fact the one of our projects, in the project brief that we have been given, is the curation of a display of all the objects we have made through the workshop inductions, and it think it could be useful to take some of what Natasha Mayo has done with the curation of her exhibition, being a maker herself, looking at the curation of an exhibition from the makers point of view and apply that to my exhibition.


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