We recently sat down with South Australian ceramic artist Honor Freeman to talk about her work Things I know you've touched, 2019, which was recently acquired through support from Contemporary Collectors for the Art Gallery of South Australia.
Money raised through Contemporary Collectors annual membership plays a vital role in supporting the Art Gallery of South Australia to make important acquisitions of contemporary art that dramatically enrich the collection.
Tell us briefly about the work?
Things I know you’ve touched is a collection of 114 slipcast porcelain used soaps. Created by making moulds of discarded cake soap, some my own, but most arrived in the post as sweet floral, citrus and powdery smelling gifts from afar. The used soap in various states of decay, creviced, weathered and barely there slivers, intimate objects worn into odd shapes recalling the traces of an individuals touch and use.
The soaps are meticulously cast, carved, sanded and fired. Time is integral, transferred from the making process to the viewing. Using the mimetic qualities of clay via the making process of slipcasting, Things I know you touched interacts with ideas of liquid made solid. The porcelain casts echo the original objects; the liquid slip turns solid and becomes a precise memory of a past form - a ghost. Scentless and forever preserved in porcelain.
The cracks are carefully sealed with gold lustre, transforming them into golden seams, referencing the Japanese art of Kintsugi, the tradition of repairing with gold and lacquer.
When and why did you make it?
This work was made during the Collections Project residency in 2019, part of a suite of works for the exhibition Ghost Objects [at the Art Gallery of South Australia]. The work was a response to the research I had undertaken during the course of the project on mourning objects and works of art that offer solace for grief. In the course of researching the Japanese tradition Kintsugi, I discovered the word Kamakizu (kiln wounds), and began tending the ruptures and marking the experience of loss in a very particular way.
The collection of 114 porcelain soap are installed in a linear sentence like formation measuring and marking time. Perhaps becoming a visual poem on grief - what it means to lose a loved one and have them disappear, reflecting on how we remember and what remains. Importantly, within the catalogue of porcelain soap, is a slipcast relic of the last bar of soap used by my father before he died.
How does it feel to have the work acquired by AGSA with the support of Contemporary Collectors?
I am thrilled and humbled for my practice to be recognised and this work in particular to have found a permanent home in the AGSA collection. Not only because it was borne out of researching works and objects from the Collections Project, but because it is an important work that has a deep significance to me personally.