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Ceramic: Clay in art is more popular than ever both in Denmark and internationally. COOL CLAY – Ceramic Containers in Art Today presents 20 Danish artists’ reinterpretation of clay pots as works of art. Here the clay container exists as applied art, myth, body, sound instrument, canvas, and sculpture.

Wet clay, the mineral scent of earth, a cold surface against the soft skin of hands, a cracked surface the eyes can drown in. Clay in art is more popular than ever, and Gammel Holtegaard Art Centre’s exhibition COOL CLAY – Ceramic Containers in Art Today presents 20 Danish artists’ reinterpretation of clay pots as works of art. Here the clay container exists as applied art, myth, body, sound instrument, canvas, and sculpture.

The relationship between humans and nature is increasingly in focus. We see climate change transforming the world around us, and species of flora and fauna suddenly disappearing. We are slowly realising that humankind is the cause of these developments. Even though we might see ourselves as highly developed creatures who have created digital worlds, invented artificial intelligence, and travelled to outer space, we are still part of the earth’s ecosystem. We are, in other words, not beyond nature but an integral part of its complex global cycle.

It is perhaps in this light that we can see the current interest in ceramics among contemporary artists. Taking soft clay directly from the earth then transforming it into countless creations is one of the most striking trends on the Danish and international art scene today.

People have been creating clay containers for millennia, and the cultural history, myths and symbolism of such vessels provide a clear frame of reference for the works in COOL CLAY. Sources of inspiration include the American science-fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin’s manifesto-like essay on the receptacle ‘The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction’ (1986). In the text Le Guin offers a new perspective on the early behaviour of humankind in hunter-gatherer societies, turning her attention to the gatherer’s receptacle for carrying and storing food like nuts and berries. Because imagine if the container had been seen as humankind’s first and most important tool instead of the spear?

Le Guin sees the container as a metaphor for sustainable creativity. This connection between the receptacle and creativity is repeated in much of the symbolism connected with clay vessels throughout cultures worldwide, including as symbols of motherhood, fertility, and the cosmos.

Floors Covered with Tons of Earth 
Sensuousness is the main focus of Gammel Holtegaard’s exhibition COOL CLAY. When visitors enter the old baroque villa, they step into an earth-filled, intense landscape with heavy textiles on the walls. Tons of earth from the courtyard of the main building have been dug up to create a base to display the artworks and a path through the exhibition for visitors. The staging of the exhibition arouses the senses – touch, sight, smell and hearing intensify the experience of the many works filling the galleries. Before entering the exhibition visitors are encouraged to remove their shoes and don soft slippers so they can feel the ground beneath their feet as they move through the earth-filled space. Four of the artists – Cathrine Raben Davidsen (b. 1972), Frederik Næblerød (b.1988), Anna Samsøe (b.1987), and Nour Fog (b.1981) – have created works specifically for COOL CLAY, works that offer visitors the unique opportunity to explore with their eyes but also their hands.

The staging of COOL CLAY continues Gammel Holtegaard’s series experimenting with the scope and potential of exhibition design to enhance the art experience.

Lisbeth Bank (b.1975), Claus Carstensen (b.1957), Cathrine Raben Davidsen (b. 1972), Rose Eken (b.1976), Nour Fog (b.1981), Ida Kvetny (b.1980), Klara Lilja (b.1989), Carl Mannov (b.1990), Karl Monies (b.1984), Mie Mørkeberg (b.1980), Ursula Nistrup (b.1974), Fie Norsker (b.1974), Frederik Nystrup-Larsen (b.1992), Frederik Næblerød (b.1988), Knud Odde (b.1955), Anna Samsøe (b.1987), Andreas Schulenburg (b.1975), Anna Stahn (b.1994), Dan Stockholm (b.1982), Anna Sørensen (b.1968)


Gl. Holtegaard                                                                                                                                    Attemosevej 170
2840 Holte



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