SLUMP STOOLS | ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING | 2019 | FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES

In 2019, Lemon was included in the Annual General Meeting with Friends and Associates. Lemon exhibited Slump Stools. Slump Stool #1 was acquired by The National Gallery of Victoria.

Visit via the The National Gallery of Victoria's Permanent Collection 

Slump Stools

I am drawn to design objects that elicit a physiological response. Fired ceramic is an unusual material to make furniture from. It’s rigid and unforgiving properties don’t couple well with an object intended for comfort; for instance, a clay chair can freak people out – it’s uncomfortable before you even sit on it.  These works were made to present clay in a raw state. I purposefully let the clay work in tandem with high temperatures in the kiln so that the material can move and flex in less predictable ways. Working with larger scale pieces is also a physical challenge that I like.

Slump stool #1 is made from around 15 kg of stoneware clay and glaze. I start with making the base quite roughly on a wheel. I want to give the clay some agency. I like to see twists, tensions and cracks. The seat component is then made from a block of clay, which I toss and stretch, similar to the way pizza bases are stretched. I fire these two pieces separately first and then again using glaze to secure them together.

The process involves consistent steps, but the malleability of clay and the extreme heat that the works are exposed to means that each stool is unique. The forms vary, and the glaze finish reflects how I’m feeling. The colours and thickness of the glaze application is often intuitive.

I celebrate colour and texture through the gestural and expressive painting with glaze. I am fascinated by glazes’ semblance to plastic. I like playing with audiences’ interpretations of materials. However, I am also led by the innate instability of clay and glaze. The high temperatures they are exposed to create unforeseen variations.

When I sit down at the wheel, I don’t usually have an intended outcome or firm concept in mind, except for my functional ware. However, everything mostly emerges as it should – imperfect with intention. I am more inclined to be led by the material. The fluid nature of clay is an immersive tactile experience. I like to indulge in that, especially if I have been making cups and bowls for a while. This is how the slump stools came into fruition.  

My practice is all about embracing bits of fear, stupidity, risk and intuition. Ceramics can be unforgiving; melts, explosions and warping can be undesirable, but I love harnessing chaos and unpredictability. This process is uncomfortable and emotionally taxing, that’s what keeps me interested however. My design, craft and art practices inform each other. My craftsmanship allows me to make informed guesses and push the material. My art practice keeps me questioning, expressing and engaging with chaos. My design practice brings these aspects together. For me, design is also philosophical. I question the roles of objects in serving human needs and lifestyles.

Working with varying quantities of glaze in experimental and unorthodox ways has produced some interesting and catastrophic results. 

For example, when making Slump Stool #1, I used glaze as a structural component.  This simply meant that the seat and the body (made in separate parts) were fused together permanently, only by glaze. This iteration of glaze as a structural, rather than decorative component, is a direction I am enthralled by.

 

AGM JAMES LEMON SLUMP STOOLS