after a second day of invigilating this exhibition I have photos of some of the other installations.

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this is Bumshee, by Beth Marie Groom; 57 terracotta smoke-fired donuts, meant to be based on life-rings, but they are more reminiscent to me of tyre inner tubes. its interesting that a non-ceramicist would use the medium, but its probably the cheapest method of making multiples of this size. the smoke effect is quite appealing, but the most enticing thing for me is the cream coloured glue filling all the cracks. they are piled up around the font, and are more to do with the idea of a working class hero, the lifeboat coxwain, as salt of the earth (the title of the exhibition) than any reference to salt as a material.

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this is a giant (and rather phallic) saltmill, made of laminated birch-faced plywood by Charles Sharpe, which is turned on a lathe. it really works as a salt mill, too! not art, but fun. I think the guy who made it hoped that Maldon Salt who helped fund the exhibition would buy the piece, but it has not sold so far.

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Jill North’s installation is one of my favourites; tiny paper houses made of photocopied pages of Mark Kurlansky’s book, Salt; a world history. even better, you can make your own from printed pages available at the exhibition and place it where you fancy, as this person has done, in another installation. its quite a subversive idea.

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Marcela Trsova’s piece, a boat made of steel wire, string, and salt crystals, Light Vessel, is rather beautiful, especially when it catches the sunlight, later in the day.

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but I think the copper wire fish detract slightly, it doesn’t need them, and they are not so special.

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the late sunlight illuminates the salt crystals.

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Ian Starsmore’s A Step at a Time has the exquisite juxtaposed with the earthy, so the imagination travels between the salt of the earth and the mercurial imagination, a whole but tiny world of  ladders, vessels, prints and poems. very difficult to describe and needs your head inside its frame or proscenium arch to really get to grips with it.

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Louise Tiplady’s little carving in carrara marble is also exquisite, and perfect in its surroundings where there are lovely fifteenth century lions adorning the font.

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and yet her work has the confidence and cool of a modern piece. it sold too.

my potter friend Antje Ernestus made an installation which is very much about process, using salt and beach materials in  firing and glazing.

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her six plaques were fired in a saggar, that is they were totally enclosed inside the kiln, to protect it from the effects of salt and other chemicals during the firing, with salt and seaweed. these things leave marks, special colours and textures, and cause splits like the one above. she also culled images from the church itself, from the graffiti, and from the building, which are worked into the pieces. she has made a book about the work from  the initial gathering on the beach at Salthouse to the firings.

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here you can see the colour and the crystalline formations the salt has made on the raw clay during firing.

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Stephen Parry has made a series of salt cellars which stand in a line on a table covered in salt flakes, rolled down hard to make a beautiful glittering white surface. unfortunately people can’t resist putting their fingers into it, so it doesn’t stay perfect for long. I want one of these handsome standing stone-like pillars to put my salt on at the centre of my table. they have wonderful marks and textures, fired very high in a wood-fired kiln with some ash blown in.

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in contrast there are several pieces of work which contrast harshly with the environment. not that there is anything wrong with that, but this piece just doesn’t appeal to me visually, although when I read the explanation I feel that it should have very moving resonances.

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Dominic Rey’s The House is Black “uses as a starting point Niobe’s salt tears and explores ideas of loss and grief within families particularly in connection to war and conflict”. so – the lacy black is like a widow’s veil – the lurid neon tubes piercing it and so on – but to me a bit specious, a bit trite.

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In this environment it is hard to relate to the acrylic and steel, the fluorescent tubes, and the harshness of the piece.

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Anna Maria Pacheko’s piece works better, but my eye slides off to the texture of the peeling plaster next to it … I love her graphic work but this seems a little neat compared to earlier very scary heads and figures. after all I think I have become a little conservative, I like my art wrapped in messy process.