Materials and materiality have been subjected to relentless experimentation for aeons. From composing elemental structures to birthing intricate sculptures, the journey of materials encapsulates everything that falls on the spectrum of complexity. Despite the centuries-long progression, there still remain facets of materials’ identities that are left unturned—facets contemporary artists and designers continue to comprehend. This unmitigated cycle of evolution is encountered in ceramic art and design as well, thanks to ceramic artists such as Hanne Heuch and Nina Malterud. Educated in ceramics in the 1970s, the ceramicists have been practitioners for nearly 50 years. Their ethos revolves around broadening the horizons for materials and their deemed potential and pursuing surprising effects that emanate from unmapped processes. The artists come together to exhibit individual projects within a cohesive exhibition design at Format, a leading gallery for contemporary crafts and design in Oslo, Norway. Dubbed heuch & malterud, the exhibition will be open to the public from November 3, to December 18, 2022.
After completing her education in the middle of the 1970s, Heuch’s inclination towards industrial porcelain only grew stronger. As early as 1981, the Norwegian ceramicist seized the opportunity to work on her own projects at Porsgrunds Porselænsfabrik (Porsgrund Porcelain Factory). Later, she began glazing and firing at Norsk Teknisk Porselensfabrikk (NTP Products) in Fredrikstad. For the ongoing art exhibition at Format, she is currently showcasing a series of oval bowls—an ensemble in which deformation emerges as the theme. Dabbling with cast porcelain and glazes, the pieces are donned in two glazes: shiny and matte, made from different receipts; a precise form deforms in various ways and achieves a softness that is unattainable with other methods.
Malterud, on the other hand, works with earthenware and glazes fired at a lower temperature in her own kiln. She brings to the group exhibition flat wall-mounted pieces in various formats, representing her oeuvre from 2016 to 2022. Her work contains references to historical ceramic forms such as tiles and dishes, but with a focus on expression rather than function. Over the years of her practice, she has refined the processes of reglazing and refiring several times, choreographing an interaction between the layers of glaze that culminates in unanticipated results. Stretched rectangles, abandoning their lives as dishes and crawling up to become images on the wall, are characteristic of this method of working. The Norwegian artist also displays five large unglazed earthenware tiles with painted stripes in clay colours—pale ovals on the wall derived from the shape of a tray.
Both Heuch and Malterud are amongst Norway’s foremost ceramicists, playing key roles in and shaping the contemporary art landscape of their native country. Heuch’s work vacillates between being simple and raw, marking the sustenance of ceramic tradition with a unique personal expression. During the emergence of an international expressionist style, Heuch challenged the perceptions of ceramic objects, realising sculptural works that were informed by abstract paintings. Nina Malterud was among the pioneering Norwegian figures in what is now known as the ‘new ceramics’ in the 1970s. She actively participated in the reorientation, which entailed the restoration and acceptance of ceramics and crafts as art forms. The exhibition space becomes a stage for her art that moves fluidly between segments of crafts and fine arts. heuch & malterud unveil the artistic manifestations of two artists who have contributed to the field of ceramics for decades—career paths that have unfolded in tandem with the evolution of ceramic art and design in general—narrating a story of evolution and the pursuit of novelty.
'heuch & malterud' will remain on display from November 3 to December 18, 2022, at Format in Oslo, Norway.