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Conversations En Plein Air

Charlotte Hodes

Charlotte Hodes: details from The Picnic, a frieze of papercuts running approx. 8 metres, 2022.
Image: © Peter Abrahams

Conversations En Plein Air (Conversations in the Fresh Air/Outdoor Conversations), an exhibition by internationally renowned UK artist Charlotte Hodes, invites us to a joyful, colourful and poetic picnic.  The theme of the picnic has many art historical references from the French fête galante paintings of Watteau and Lancret to Manet’s Déjeuner sur L’Herbe.  Charlotte Hodes combines these references with contemporary ones, such as the problem of throw-away packaging and the recently ubiquitous face masks.  Underlying the theme of the picnic is the subtext of women making contact, whether by mobile phone, paper airplane or megaphone to communicate with each other from afar.  Depicted on plates, cups and bottles, they appear marooned on small islands, with each piece of china like a stepping stone.

The presence of masks and the distance between the characters are reminders of the recent pandemic that brutally transformed our social interactions. Our appreciation of meeting and socialising in the outdoors changed dramatically during Covid lockdowns and once larger gatherings were permitted, picnicking became a socially-distanced and restorative means of meeting with family and friends.  This new series of vases, paper-cuts and tableware draws us into the conversation as though sitting together on the picnic blanket.

Charlotte Hodes’ practice bridges the fine and decorative arts.  Trained as a painter, she has used ready-made ceramic ware as a canvas since the 1990s.  She carries over collage and printing processes to the field of ceramics, influenced by her study of the archive of historic transfers from the Spode factory in Stoke on Trent. Adapted from an exhibition first shown at Musée Ariana, Geneva.

1 June – 20 July 2024
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