The haunting beauty of porcelain – Clare Twomey’s Piece by Piece @ Gardiner Museum

3 original figurines
6 makers
2,000 replica statuettes

Artist Clare Twomey’s remarkable, interactive exhibit Piece by Piece is on now at the Gardiner Museum.

Inspired by the museum’s commedia dell’arte collection, Twomey and five other makers created molds of three figurines (Leda, Harlequin and Scaramouche) and produced 2,000 statuettes. The three originals stand in raised glass cases at one end of the exhibition room, facing the maker’s table opposite. In the taped off space between them, the replicas are situated on the floor. A path along the edges of the room takes the viewer on a journey around the exhibit, providing a 360° perspective of the spectacle.

The scores of white statuettes in the space between the maker and the original figurines are placed in evocative positions and groupings, calling to mind armies, intimate dancing couples and chorus lines, and even acrobatics. Some of them are grouped to hold others aloft, like a cheerleading squad or even a mosh pit; some are broken, missing their bases, arms or heads – a dichotomy between strength and fragility at play here.

As the statuettes are all unpainted – and most have not been glazed – the lighting in the exhibition space plays sharply about their contours, casting shadows on the floor and bringing them eerily to life. The effect is both beautiful and haunting.

At various times throughout the exhibit, a solo maker can be seen at work at the table, pouring porcelain into the molds, or opening molds to reveal a newly created piece. Take a look at the video:

Piece by Piece is on display (on the third floor of the museum) until January 4, 2015. On the final day of the exhibit, the museum will be staging a public intervention, during which the public will be invited to take a piece of the exhibit home. You can find more info, including priority registration here.

You can also follow the Gardiner Museum on Facebook and Twitter.


Published by life with more cowbell

Multidisciplinary storyteller. Out & proud. Torontonian. Likes playing with words. A lot.

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