Tue | Aug 4, 2020

Taking art to the people

Published:Monday | August 12, 2019 | 12:00 AM
David Dunn displaying a piece of his exquisite ceramic items.
An array of David Dunn’s ceramic items.
An array of Leonia McKoy's ceramic items.
Leonia McKoy shows off one of her butterfly ceramic pieces

As much as people love art, artists and artisans will tell you that most people do not arbitrarily walk into a gallery to buy a piece or two or just to look around and gawk at what they see. The buyers are usually serious art patrons and collectors.

Moreover, the upkeep of a gallery, especially when sales are slow, can be a frustrating endeavour. Thus, many artists do not even use galleries and showrooms to expose their work. They have found other ways, such as fairs and festivals, special events, and pop-up shops/galleries.

Recently, Flair went to see two ceramic artists, former teacher and student, who had a pop-up shop at Sovereign Centre in the open space near the food court.

Leonia McKoy, who described herself as ceramic artist who works with fired clay, said that she was creative from birth, and then Wolmer’s High School for Girls happened. She said that it had “the best art programme ever”.

After Wolmer’s, she went to the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts to do graphics, but ceramics grabbed her hands and did not let go. She realised that she could do anything with clay, and it allows her to do much more than she could with any other material. It was “love at first touch … so that is how I ended up in ceramics”, she revealed.

Marcia Dunn taught her at Wolmer’s, and when she went to Edna Manley, she fell under the tutelage of David Dunn, head of the ceramics department at the time, and the husband of Marcia Dunn. For her, it was Dunn, and there she was, side by side with David in a pop-up shop, selling ceramic items.

Dunn said that it felt “great” to be exhibiting beside his former student, who is a “very nice person to work with” and “very talented”, while McKoy said that she was “not sure” if she had any words to describe the experience as she had been exhibiting with him since art-school days.

Though McKoy was taught certain techniques by Dunn, she said that she had developed her own style and technique. She loves to work with circles, so she would find a way to incorporate circles into her pieces. Specialising in vessels – bowls, cups, teapots, etc – she likes to twist and turn things. Nothing is made from moulding, thus no two pieces are alike.

On her biggest piece, the centrepiece, are glazed two giant butterfly wings. To that, she said, she had been working with a series of butterflies for years as she loves the process of creating ‘butterflies’. This was influenced by her experience of seeing caterpillars on the lignum vitae trees at Wolmer’s morphing into butterflies.

Dunn, being the veteran, had a greater variety, some of which were made on the potter’s wheel. He subscribes greatly to the notion of art for useful purposes not just art for the sake of art. His pieces, he said, have utilitarian value. He smiled when he spoke about the joy on people’s faces when he gave them one of his ceramic pendants.

The two talented ceramic artists had some exquisite pieces on show. They have different styles and focus, but they are certainly on the same page about the importance of pop-up shops/galleries such as the one they had at Sovereign.

McKoy said that these shops sensitise the public to what they do and let people know that she and her art exist. She travels with her work, sometimes giving people a personal exhibition, taking her art to the people.

Dunn said it was the first time for them at Sovereign, and it was the first time Sovereign Centre was hosting an art pop-up shop. He said it was important for them to be there representing Edna Manley College and themselves and to let the general public know about what they are doing. Taking the art to them is one way of exposing themselves, and, of course, to make some sales.