Jesse Wine ‘Both’
Feet of Clay: Reflections on the Ceramic Works of Jesse Wine by Tim Ingold
Both is Jesse Wine’s second solo exhibition at The Modern Institute. Installed in the Bricks Space, the show comprises a new body of work which develops his interest in combining the physical and psychological, manifesting here in the relationship to domestic space.
The installation is composed of various fragments and sculptural forms – miniature houses, limbs, branches, a slice of mattress – which offer glimpses of the artist’s personal history. These elements form an oneiric tableau; what should sink floats, what should continue or connect to a larger body splits off, morphing into another object.
The first pieces produced for the exhibition were 75 Heath Lane and 2 North Street, which Wine initially developed while on residency at The Roberts Institute of Art Residency, Scotland, working on casts of leaves and branches. He subsequently finalised the works, in particular their structural elements, at Fonderia Battaglia, Milan. While they both appear to hover on the sheer material stretched across the walls, their titles have a grounding effect, referencing Wine’s parents’ addresses when growing up – two terraced houses a mile apart. As such, the space between them is significant too and the red brick and patchwork quality of the room situates the work within a distinctly British architectural vernacular.
And yet the houses are not ornamented or detailed with Wine’s biography. Instead, they are open and symbolic, sparsely populated with little poetic items. The hand and foot in each respectively appear to be growing out of the structures, as if ready for escape. The falling leaves and empty branches they contain speak to the passing of time and their walls offer a fragile, makeshift shelter. This quality results from Wine’s production process, in which he dipped sections of cardboard in wax, cast them in bronze and welded them together.
The motif of the house provides a frame for Wine’s collusions between domestic and bodily forms elsewhere. 75 Heath Lane and 2 North Street themselves have ears on their outer walls, highlighting the inside as a mental or conceptual space rather than a physical one. Their allusion to the senses also serves to connect them directly to the more bodily works in the presentation. In these sleep, interiority, and nature emerge as themes. Both resembles a slumbering head from the front, but the reverse view reveals it empty. It is highly polished such that it puns on the notion of reflectivity – on peering inside, the only image available is a distorted one of the viewer. J.W., a ceramic finished in oxidised copper portrays a section of mattress, like a memory it is somewhat faded or incomplete. Its title is a humorous and poignant list in which the artist’s initials provide the format for a series of thoughts, phrases, insults, and remembrances. The title for G.T. contains a similar list and is the work closest to self-portrait in the show. Its legs split off into trunk-like forms, as if the body is being pulled in two directions – moving towards different places. Bobby mixes natural forms with human parts and, again, the title is somewhat intimate, perhaps referencing a friend or pet.
Together the sculptures, poised between activity and repose, capture time elapsing across a single day but also speak to longer temporal rhythms via the falling leaves and oxidised copper of J.W.. The installation shifts between interior and exterior space both physically and psychologically, hard surfaces bely their soft depiction and static postures remain nonetheless indecisive, hesitant even. These contrasts create a restless tension. The show untethers questions of meaning and belonging; neither are where we expect to find them.