The long shadow of war II

Those who are disappeared aClaireWhen Clare Abbatt talked about her art work, she spoke of the Raku firing. Each work is fired twice. The first time, before glazing, it is fired at 1000°C, after which it is still able to absorb the glaze. Then it is fired again- she uses a converted dustbin with gas burners- and on removal thrown into a box of sawdust, which ignites. More sawdust is placed on top, which damps down the flames. There are differences in patina according to how long the piece is in the air before going into the sawdust, how quickly more sawdust is added, but you cannot reproduce an effect simply by replicating these variables.

Those who wage war, who fight she painted the glaze with a copper suspension- you have to keep stirring it to stop the copper from settling. She did this generously, and the heads are copper. Those who are disappeared, above, she held out in the air for longer before placing them in the sawdust, and that produced the cracking. “It looks like a diagram, almost as if you see the topography in the cracks” said an architect, admiringly.

She had to remove the soot from the pieces with a wire brush, but with one disappeared she did not do so as it appeared just right as it was.

I wanted to know what she felt about the faces. Well, everyone can relate to faces, she said. In other words, it is all in the works, and the individual response to them.

She got the tree trunks from a tree surgeon. She was particularly pleased with the split ones for the dead, one held together with a strap. The iron supports at the bottom were made locally. They fit the works in a way plinths would not.

Would she sell them? Not at the moment, they belong together. She made them for an exhibition at Waterloo, and, not feeling competent to model those who experience war interviewed people from Belfast, and others with that experience. Her interviews are part of her exhibition. Later, she talked to Theo (I had not known he was a conservator) about museums and galleries which might exhibit them. I do not fancy the artist’s life, of making a £200 canvas and selling it in the coffee shop or wine bar, or even the Castle.

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