Jacqui Poncelet

Clay, bronze, wood and fabric


Not on display

Jacqui Poncelet born 1947
Clay, bronze, wood and fabric
Object: 310 × 1740 × 1080 mm
Presented in memory of Adrian Ward-Jackson by Weltkunst Foundation 2013


Clay, bronze, wood and fabric 1988 is a sculpture that comprises three parts: two objects made of clay, bronze and wood are placed on a rectangular piece of floral fabric laid on the floor. The work has a simple descriptive title which draws attention to its material composition and the contrasts inherent within the combination of the materials used. The two objects have an insistently organic, even visceral, presence. Made using the most traditional of sculptural processes, carving and casting, their sensual lines are suggestive of soft flesh and intimate body parts. The sculpture embodies what the photographer David Ward, writing about Poncelet’s work, has described as a ‘frank and imprudent sexuality in the confluence of form, material, and importantly surface pattern’ (David Ward, quoted in Irish Museum of Modern Art 1997, p.50).

The relationship between such sensual objects and the floral fabric on which they sit appears somewhat incongruous. Patterned fabrics and carpets are used extensively in Poncelet’s work and make reference to a specific type of English interior. Poncelet has commented on the use of the fabric in this work:

         The fabric is a curtain. The pattern is important because I wanted it to be something that had a history … and it’s a very conventional piece of English fabric, it has a lot to do with a particular period of interior design. You know the way the English are such pirates. It is a Persian pattern that’s been literally adapted in an English manner.
(Quoted in Irish Museum of Modern Art 1997, p.50.)

In another comment, Poncelet discussed the relationship of this work to painting:

I think this piece inhabits a space in the same way that painting does, exactly because the objects are on that piece of cloth, so it’s not an independent object in the way a sculpture normally is. It actually has clearly defined boundaries that imply that it doesn’t exist beyond the edges of that cloth. After I made this piece I went on to spend most of my time painting and then later I went back to working with carpets, specifically with that idea in mind of defining the territory that objects survive in. The other thing about the pattern was that it’s quite shimmering in the same way that the work is, so in a sense if you could see the work two-dimensionally you’d see echoes of the objects on the pattern.
(Quoted in Irish Museum of Modern Art 1997, p.50.)

Best known as a ceramicist, Poncelet expanded her practice in the late 1980s and 1990s to include painting, sculpture and public art commissions. Her work can be understood as engaging with a feminist art practice that blurs the boundaries between what has conventionally been regarded as craft and fine art. Against a cultural hierarchy that traditionally downgrades the so-called decorative arts in relation to practices such as painting and sculpture, Poncelet’s art examines the way in which decoration can define space, volume and surface.

Further reading
Catherine Marsall, Breaking the Mould: British Art of the 1980s and 1990s. The Weltkunst Collection, exhibition catalogue, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin 1997, p.50, reproduced p.51.

Helen Delaney
August 2013

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