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Ceramics & Glass (MA)

Desa Philippi

Desa Philippi is from Hamburg in Germany and has lived in Britain most of her adult life. Her mother was a painter, and she was surrounded by art from an early age, but initially chose an academic career. After working as an art historian and writer for many years, she changed direction and started working with clay. Gradually her focus has shifted from making wheel-thrown functional ware and groups of bottles and vases in porcelain to working more experimentally. The City Lit Ceramic Diploma course was followed by an MA in Ceramics & Glass from the Royal College of Art. In 2021, she received the Charlotte Fraser Award for her Corner Compositions.

Desa’s practice is studio based and she works for exhibition, to commission, and would like to branch out into making work for public spaces. She is also researching ways of working collaboratively, especially in a community and/or educational context around themes of home, homelessness and migration. To develop and extend her art practice, Desa is interested in residencies in the UK and internationally as well as in developing contacts with galleries. 

Please get in touch with any comments and enquiries.

My practice centres around archaeological fragments as a way of relating to the past, and architectural models as visions of the future. I create hybrid objects that are clearly fragments but also have the character and function of models.

A sense of mobility – of memories, desires, fears and hopes – is an important aspect of my work. With the fragment there is often a cataclysmic event that results in the scattering of fragments which become mobile in the way the original structure might not have been, whereas the model embodies the mobility of ideas that have yet to settle in a particular place. My practice is materials based and develops through experimentation and explorations of clay and of ceramic processes and technologies. Working with clay allows me to combine simple geometric forms and clearly differentiated surfaces, smooth or highly textured with the imprints of natural materials and found objects. Surfaces are further defined and accentuated with contrasting glazes. It is through this material vocabulary that my work raises questions about how we inhabit, remember and experience architectural spaces, about shelter and home, and about the uncanny and unhomely.

Close to Home, 2020, 60cm x 30cm x 32cm
Precarious, 2021, 42cm x 34cm x 21cm
Thought Habitation, 2021, 57cm x 32cm x 30cm
Corner Tribulations (three views), 2021, 50cm x 30cm x 28cm

In the Corner Compositions I use the corner as a fragment and develop this ubiquitous architectural element into free standing ceramic objects. Each object is constructed from press moulded and/or extruded elements assembled in a way that creates a shift in weight and figuration. This ‘fault line’ both defines and interrupts the composition. It thereby underlines the fundamentally ambiguous nature of the corner as a spatial arrangement which defines and limits, protects and imprisons, unifies and divides.

Medium:

partially glazed stoneware
Pipes, installation
Pipes, installation
Pipes, detail
Pipes, detail

Pipes and Channels are ubiquitous structures whose physical shapes have changed little over time. Ancient versions were often made from clay and while we still use pipes and channels to transport water and other liquids, linguistically their meaning has shifted and is now frequently associated with the flow of information and data that are piped, channelled and, on occasion, leaked.

Medium:

partially glazed stoneware

Size:

Pipes, 2021, 60cm x 190cm, x 8cm
Wall Channels, 2021, approx. 25cm x 20cm x18cm each
Floor Channel, 2021, 22cm x 57cm x 21cm

Wall Channels are playful metaphors for invisible things behind and in the walls of our dwellings which at times develop a life of their own. They seem to emerge from the wall growing tongues and oozing vitrified liquids.

Floor Channels explore formal qualities of volume and surface by transforming ancient water channels embedded in soil into free-standing objects. In this reworking, the interior step becomes part of a see-saw form that adds an element of balance to the object and an emphasis on the direction of flow.

Medium:

partially glazed stoneware
Covered, 2021, 40cm x 36cm x 7cm
Hidden, 2021, 40cm x 31cm x 5cm
Vortex, 2021, 135cm x 100cm x 5cm
To vary that which is in fact unchanging, 2021, 120cm x 120cm x 5cm
To vary that which is in fact unchanging, detail

Covered uses press moulding to develop ideas about human habitation and archaeological sites. Crucially, the view in relation to traces and fragments changes from looking straight ahead to the bird’s eye view of surveillance. Where the Corner Compositions and Hidden concentrate on the individual fragment, Covered and the larger multipart installations focus on the site in its changing, fragmentary nature.

Medium:

partially glazed stoneware