Kate Newby’s sculptural practice is rooted in the act of collecting; rather than finished objects, she collects different matters, materials, and fragments that contain only the memory of the object they used to be, caught in the process that from objects brings them back to being materials.
Artist(s) Kate Newby
Venue Galeria Madragoa, Lisbon
Images Bruno Lopes. Courtesy of the artist and Madragoa.
Earth, pebbles, glass splinters and pieces of metal constitute the DNA of the sites that Newby has gone through, taking samples of clay from the ground, which are then modeled by her fingers in order to obtain a more or less thin and concave shape, that recalls the valve of a shell. These small and simple forms of clay are then cooked on the spot, using traditional techniques and local kilns, and achieving very diverse results.
Newby’s particular way of collecting is halfway between an involuntary, compulsive, somewhat stealthy gesture, which responds to an impulse to preserve a space-time image of a specific environment and atmosphere, reduced to its essential components, transformed into a palm-sized and rarefied souvenir, and a more rigorous act of sampling and classifying reality, creating her own taxonomy. This organisation originally and ideally takes the form of a travel notebook, on which the artist’s impressions settle, as the ceramic pieces are superimposed on each other.
The sculptures on display are the pages full of notes of this travelogue, written over several years of travels, reunited for the first time in the exhibition. Each work is composed of a series, variable in number and size, of ceramic pieces made in a specific place – New York, 2016; Marfa, Texas 2017; Portland, Oregon 2019; Lyon, France, 2019 and Toronto, Canada, 2019 – held together by a thread and suspended from the ceiling, similar to a necklace or a spine.
In a corner of the gallery, an installation Bring Everyone also made of ceramic pieces and glass from shards of bottles collected in the street, evokes a choreography of empty shells coming from a distant shore, brought into the gallery by a sea storm.