Lauren Winstone’s exhibition at Two Rooms features a selection of hand-thrown ceramics that investigate the set of interrelationships and spaces governing the three basic elements of a pot – a base, a rim, and a handle. The pieces are largely variants of a hollow curved form, which is separately thrown and then subjected to a rigorous process of analysis, assembly, and reconfiguration. In this, Leanings builds on Winstone’s 2014 show Pieces at Two Rooms, but there is now a greater primacy placed on the physical act of creation, which allows her to inject an element of spontaneity, and to embrace possibilities that emerge at the wheel. The resultant works exhibited at Two Rooms are inherently sculptural, but they still possess a shadow of functionality. Indeed, the tension between the haptic inclination to touch and grasp a familiar form, such as a handle, and having that same handle physically difficult to grasp, due to its position or scale, is something that Winstone appreciates. Reflecting on this aspect of her work, Winstone acknowledges that she is “drawn to making pots that push the viewer away, in a sense, and retreat into their own autonomy and private relations. I respond to pieces that appeal to the hands and to the body, but simultaneously withdraw from the touch, and present a challenge.” This dichotomy is present in both form and finish, for the glazes and rounded curves render several of the pieces highly tactile, but their unusual formulations cast them into an ambiguous and unknown realm.
Winstone demonstrates a high level of control of the medium as she challenges the conventions of ceramics, playing with scale, density, proportion and surface. The various finishes that can be achieved through a combination of brushwork, tints, and glazes are also gathering focus in this collection of works. In some instances, the glazing is applied to reinforce the planes and profiles of forms, while other works have a glaze that goes against the grains of the form. Brushwork is seen being applied underneath and over the top of a glaze, while some pieces have been re-glazed and re-fired to achieve a richer and more sensuous surface. Spatial tensions are created through parts that have similar surfaces, but opposing directional movements and trajectories.
In 2010 Winstone was awarded a Master of Fine Arts (Hons) from the Elam School of Art at The University of Auckland. She previously completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Unitec where she majored in painting, but first began exploring ceramics. A former Director of Ramp Gallery, Hamilton, Winstone was a member of the Rm Gallery collective, Auckland (2000-2004). Recent exhibitions include: Holding Holes, The Dowse Art Museum (solo, 2012); Singular Companions, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (group, 2012); Collected Fictions, Waikato Art Museum (group, 2011); Humming on a Windless Slope, a solo window project for Objectspace, Auckland (2010); and the online project Responses to New Zealand Potter magazine (with Nick Spratt) for Alterations (2011). In 2010, Winstone received a Creative New Zealand grant to attend the Guldagergaard Ceramics Residency in Denmark, and in 2007 she undertook an artist residency at the Seoksu Art Project, Anyang City, Korea. In April 2016, Winstone was one of six artists invited to show her work, and collaborate on-site at Clay Gulgong, Australia’s international ceramic festival. Her work is held in several important museum collections, including Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum of New Zealand, Dowse Art Museum, and The University of Auckland.