Bottom Image: Sketches for January's Bowl by Michael Lloyd; photo by Nick Duxbury
Exhibition review by Tina Rose
When I was asked to write about the Twelve Vessels, a beautiful exhibition of hand raised and chased silver vessels by Michael Lloyd, I felt rather overwhelmed, as it is an experience which is difficult to express in words.
Michael had wanted for a while to create a series of twelve vessels – one for each month – expressing his love of nature and reflecting the profound events that mark our lives of birth, love and death. He approached eleven individuals, couples and families who were part of his life including friends, curators, fellow makers and patrons, and invited them to be part of his idea and to choose a time of year.
Over the next 18 months he observed the seasons, drawing nature, and in conversation with each of the patrons gathered the strands of relationships, family and the circle of life, to create an individual vessel for each one. Each has its own individual form and imagery, and also, in his words, is ‘honouring the preciousness of memory’.
In the exhibition a fabric hanging by each of the vessels reveals the patron and the memories that led to their choice of month – stories of births, deaths, love and survival - which are delicately and intelligently captured within the simple form of a vessel, a symbol of sharing, nourishment, and contemplation.
It is a very personal show, both for the artist and the people who shared their lives. Each person looking at these vessels will connect in a different way, as the stories will have a different resonance in their life. It is particularly touching that there are actually thirteen vessels, as Michael surprised Mary and Olivier Michel with a second piece to mark the arrival of a new baby, Matilda. The couple had chosen a quotation from Norman McCaig for their vessel for their son Louis, which they felt summed up the arrival of a new baby, and he split this over the two vessels ‘Something has been completed that everything is part of, something that will go on being completed forever’.
At the New Craft Future Voices International Conference in 2007 (transcript in PPFCP publication) Paul Greenhalgh, director and president of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran Gallery of Art and Design puts forward the concept of Craft and the New Humanism. He suggests there are two constituencies to craft, one of which is poetry (the other political), and says ‘Many within the craft disciplines engage in poetic discourse: they are about the making of physical things that engage the intellect and the emotions. We should simply recognise this and desist from further categorisation. If it works as poetry, it works.’
There is a peacefulness, honesty and beauty to this exhibition which is born from experience, skill, imagination and character. It has a spiritual poetry which could only have been created by Michael Lloyd.
The exhibition was hosted by IC: Innovative Craft and Dovecot, and supported by Creative Scotland and the Incorporation of Goldsmiths of the City of Edinburgh. A full catalogue been published to accompany the exhibition and is available from IC: Innovative Craft cost £10 + £2 P+P by emailing or sending a cheque payable to IC:Innovative Craft or they are available in the Dovecot Shop.
Tina Rose, December 2010