New film out now!

Snowflake films have just released a brand new film of Christin Johansson’s performance piece Ceremony of Her Porcelain Spirit, created especially for The Ceramic House and performed on the opening night of Fantastic Tales. Nicki Lang, owner of Snowflake Films, spent the day of the opening filming Christin with her assistant Petra in the basement of The Ceramic House and involved several white doves and trips to Brighton Beach.

Gorgeous, evocative, mesmerising, watch it and feel the calm…


Last weekend of Fantastic Tales coming up!

It’s been a wonderful festival this year. The Ceramic House has definitely become a must-see landmark on the Brighton map. Popularity has been growing steadily since launching 4 years ago with the profile of the venue and the quality of the shows rising in line.

This year has undoubtedly been the best show so far, with a broad range of types of ceramic work, all of the highest standard by well known ceramists. It has been an inspiration to have such extraordinary work surrounding me and to have spent time (albeit short in some cases) with this group of extremely talented Danish artists. The choice of having a theme has been a natural progression for me and has inspired me to continue being more selective. Each year I learn more about curating, communicating with artists, what works and doesn’t work, how best to run a show in this context. Who knows where it will go from here?

We have been blessed this year with fabulous weather during the festival. Last weekend saw Brighton at its very best. I felt proud and inspired to call Brighton my home. The sun shone gloriously, the festival was in full swing, the streets of the city were teeming with people – visiting, watching, performing, busking, enjoying the festival. Add to that the allure of Brighton beach – a constant attraction on any sunny day drawing visitors from near and far – and it’s a hit!

We have had record visitor numbers this year. At certain moments I have found it difficult to believe quite how many people there are in the house at any one time – in every room, on all levels of the garden, looking around with wonder, exclaiming, pointing, gasping with oohs and ahs, commenting on the displays, the tiles, the artwork everywhere you look. This is all good! Makes me feel it’s all been worthwhile.

So, it’s the final weekend just around the corner. Come along if you get the chance and say hi!

Fantastic Tales: Danish Contemporary Ceramics at The Ceramic House, 75 Stanmer Villas, Brighton BN1 7HN Saturday and Sunday 24th/25th May, 11am – 5pm


Christin Johansson at The Ceramic House, video and description of performance: Spirit of Her Porcelain Spirit

On the opening night of Fantastic Tales: Danish Contemporary Ceramics, Christin Johansson performed a new piece of work created especially for the occasion: Ceremony of her porcelain spirit.

This is the first piece of work produced by Christin since she won the coveted 3 year development grant from the Danish arts council. The Ceramic House is honoured to have hosted it, performed for one night only on the 1st of May. It was a triumph. An intimate performance, designed for one person at a time. On the night two observers were also invited in to allow more guests to experience it. Nevertheless, the queue stretched through the garden all night. The participants donned white clothing and removed their shoes before entering an all-white environment. Here is a sense of what I experienced:

The curtains part and you enter a billowing white tent. The floor is earth, swept meticulously clean, and there is an arrangement of white objects carefully laid out on a white cloth. The purpose for each item becomes apparent during the performance. An egg timer is turned over, and then, for 15 minutes, the Spirit of the Porcelain embraces, invades every pore, lays her calming hand upon you and makes you still. There is gentle meditative music in the background, and you are entranced by the woman in front of you. Every movement she makes, every gesture, is methodical, ritual, symbolic, has a purpose. No words are spoken, yet with an incline of the head, a minute gesture of the hand, she tells you what to do. She takes a parcel of white fabric and opens it up, layer after layer, to reveal a porcelain egg. This she crushes, revealing a piece of paper which she offers to you. You read words of wisdom, and it is burnt, leaving the ashes. These are added to the porcelain powder, which is then transformed back into plastic clay over the course of the performance. She comes to you and performs various actions; she takes your hand, rolls a huge ball around the palm, smoothing it, before sprinkling it with porcelain powder and marking you with liquid clay. You feel the sensation of clay in all its stages: powder, liquid, plastic, hard. She pours you a white drink from a small white stove; it tastes of cardamom. The porcelain egg, crushed to dust, has become solid enough to work with. She offers you a ball of clay – your clay, and gestures for you to pinch it into a pot. This pot is placed in the bank of earth at the side of the space. She fills it with oil, and lights a wick. The egg timer runs out, she bows to you and you rise, feeling cleansed, calm, touched by her presence. You leave, silently. You feel blessed to have experienced this.

Dr. Louise Mazanti, PhD in contemporary craft, writes,

“Christin Johansson is one of the most radical young artists within Scandinavian contemporary ceramics. Moving between space design, performance, ritual and creation of ceramic objects, her artistic practice is truly groundbreaking.

Clay as bodily experience, as transpersonal mediator, as a bridge between layers of consciousness, time and space is the new territory that she is defining, leaving the spectator with a sense of having touched a new space within. Her practice is relational and embodied. She works with the senses, intuition and direct experience by creating settings where the rational mind has to let go, expanding into an unknown reality. Yet very far for a conventional ceramic practice, Christin Johansson is true to the very essence of clay as material. Clay is raw from the earth, intensely physical and thus offering an important aspect to contemporary life, which is often deprived of direct, physical experience and contact.

Christin Johansson recently received a prestigious Danish three-year work scholarship, which recognises her pioneering work.”

Ceremony of Her Porcelain Spirit by Christin Johansson


Regency Town House

The opening for the Brighton Festival followed closely on the heels of the Fantastic Tales launch at The Ceramic House, i.e. the next day, Friday 2nd May. It was such an unbelievably busy week I had to go back over my blog posts to see what I managed to cover that week – not much!

One of the biggest happenings that week was the installation and opening of my piece in the Regency Town House, one of the main exhibition venues during the Brighton Festival.

While I was still in residency in Denmark, I was selected for Open Houses Open Exhibition, which is the curated part of the Artists Open Houses and this year the exhibition is held in the awesome and regal Regency Town House on Brunswick Square. Brunswick Square is arguably the most famous Square on Brighton seafront; an impressive line of Regency Townhouses forming a beautiful horseshoe facing the sea. It is a dilapidated but unspoilt treasure, and the Council are very slowly bringing it back to its former glory.

I am the only artist who proposed to make a piece especially for the space, and I made two installations while doing my residency at Guldagergård; one for Fantastic Tales at The Ceramic House and a second piece for the Regency Town House; one oxidised (fired in an electric kiln) and the other fired in the soda wood kiln (see previous blog posts all about the excitement of the firing). In the end, I decided to put the oxidised piece into the Regency Town House, because it is twice the size of the soda wood fired piece, and its size matches the grandeur of the room it is exhibited in.

I feel honoured to have spent two days installing this piece in the drawing room on the first floor, overlooking the square and the sea. The site I chose together with the curators was an obvious one – over the mantlepiece, an ideal space for me, as we cannot touch the walls, so it provided a perfect perch for me to lean the 2.4m x 1.2m panel on, high up and in perfect view.

It was a difficult job, and I worked with two volunteers attempting to get it all done in one day. The plan was to get it photographed at the end of that day, but after several postponements, in the end I spent another day there, finishing it off, and getting it photographed by Matthew Andrews, who had already shot the soda wood fired version which is on display at The Ceramic House. We managed to get fabulous photographs of it before any of the rest of the artwork was hung, and I must say I am pleased with the result. The colours of the glazes seem as if they have been designed for the room.

The private view was on the 2nd of May, part of the trail of art previews ending with the official opening of Brighton Festival 2014 at Brighton Museum. My piece was extremely well received and will be on display Saturdays and Sundays until 25th May. You can also vote for your favourite piece of work in the exhibition in Visit Brighton Visitor’s Choice award.


Fantastic Tales: Danish Contemporary Ceramics opening event 1st May 2014

The Fantastic Tales opening was a huge success. The Ceramic House was packed with guests from all over the UK and Denmark. I am ecstatic and proud that 11 of the 16 Danish artists made the effort to come over from Denmark, some with families in tow. Some had invited UK based friends and there were joyous reunions – one group had not seen each other for 11 years! So there was a Danish buzz all night, strengthened by the delicious plates of smørrebrod concocted by the Danes and the vintage Danish records (that I keep bringing back from flea-markets in Denmark) being played by the DJ (Marinetti’s Musical Museum AKA Joseph Young, AIR council member).

The weather held, which is always such a relief, because the Ceramic Garden is huge part of the experience of visiting The Ceramic House; there are many permanent tiled installations of my own all over the garden – huge wall reliefs, walls, floorpieces, benches – tiles are everywhere! But there are also sculptures in the Fantastic Tales show on display outside and The Tile Shop is in the garden.

The work looks amazing displayed all over the house and garden. The exhibition covers tableware, on the shelves in the Utility Room (specially designed to double up as display space) where I usually keep my everyday tableware; sculpture, displayed, again, on specially designed glass shelves in the kitchen (normally where my permanent collection of ceramics lives), in the living room and upstairs in the loft room, both rooms which also house installations.

Christin Johansson’s performance was happening in the basement, and the queue to see it stretched through the garden all night. Christin is in receipt of the most coveted award from the Danish arts council; a 3 year development grant, and I am so proud that The Ceramic House hosted the first piece of this new body of work; In Her Spirit of the Porcelain Ceremony. It was a triumph. An intimate performance, designed for one person at a time. On the night two observers were also invited in to allow more guests to experience it. Even so, only a few people were lucky enough to go inside, a source of much envy but it added to the buzz.

Compliments were flying about the work, which looks sensational. It is an outstanding display of Danish ceramics in the very unusual and domestic context of The Ceramic House, home, gallery, living work of art. Worth a visit!

Open 11-5, Saturdays and Sundays throughout May. 75 Stanmer Villas Brighton BN1 7HN. www.theceramichouse.co.uk