Robert Harrison

New Clay Windows: Light Radiators 2001

Wood-fired porcelain, gold luster

  • 2001
  • Sizes range from 9" High x 9" Wide x 5" Deep to 17" High x 13.5" Wide x 8" Deep

I began working with clay professionally thirty years ago. My initial work was through the vessel format, focusing on form and Oriental traditions in ceramics. After seven or eight years of exploring the vessel the work took a decidedly sculptural bent. The next few years brought an increase in scale, with my ideas drawing heavily on influences in land art, architecture and the introduction of additional sculptural materials.

I have been exploring architectural form in both the larger site-specific outdoor and museum installations as well as a body of smaller studio works over the past twenty years, attempting to play one off the other. The studio pieces are more intimate, have often included a variety of materials, and allow an intensified approach to the work. More recently I have intentionally focused the work in a strictly ceramics orientation, in essence bringing the studio work ‘full circle’, and back to my ‘ceramic roots’. A year ago my six year old daughter Hanna, created a small ceramic piece that had a tremendous presence; subsequently inspiring the clay windows series. These new works strive to get to an essence of expression in form, through an architectural language. The juxtaposition of rough and refined surfaces continues to be a hallmark of the work.

During the summer of 2001 I had the opportunity to work with high temperature clays (porcelain and porcelaineous stoneware) and fire the pieces in a variety of atmospheric kilns (wood, salt and soda). The surfaces remained unglazed and the only alteration to the form is the single incised line which delineates the interior space of the piece. Gold luster is fired onto the interior space to create the highly reflective light radiator series.

After the tragic events of 9/11 my attention turned to completing this new body of work.Reflecting on the relevance of the healing power of art, I was struck with the presence of ‘inner light’ emanating from the new pieces; hence the title of the work and the exhibition.