AN INTIMATE COLLABORATION WITH MATERIALSProfile
by Flavie Audi, AADipl2011
14 April 2014
Royal College of Art, London
“I am looking for a perfect space”
– Agnes Martin –
10 years ago, during my interview at the AA, I was asked one question: ‘Why have you decided to become an architect and not a sculptor? The focus of my practice at that time was unclear. However, what has always mattered to me is to create works that have a powerful spatial dimension. An architectural gesture and a work of art are both about making space. I was persuaded that architecture would be the right path for me as it is the most immersive constructed experience. And indeed my time at the AA was an artistic journey that taught me how to broaden the scope of my imagination and thinking.
In my 5th year, while making glass models for my diploma project, I discovered a material that would allow me to develop an artistic language that could reveal sensuality, humanity, and bring more light and life.
In a dematerialized world where all is virtual or mass produced, I believe there is a desire to return to some kind of materiality. I realised that by stepping away from digital drawings and by setting up an intimate relationship with materials, a sense of sensuality and life could be expressed. I wanted to experiment with glass and applied for an MA at the Royal College of Art.
Glass has drawn me into new unfamiliar territories away from my reductive minimalist principles. I have a complex relationship with simplicity although I am attracted to many aspects of it, I am also bored by the generic dry, cold, dull, and simplistic contemporary environment. The work I was producing felt right, so I kept going with it. Although my work appeared less and less simple, it was nonetheless underpinned by a constant search for simplicity. I embrace simplicity and directness as a positive practice. Reduction and distillation down to the essential are fundamental in order to reconstruct, challenge, and twist rebelliously conventional glass-making rules. At first sight, the work appears Baroque. However, simplicity and directness are present in the delicacy of the gesture that gives shape, the reduction of materials, the immediacy of apprehension, the directness of appreciation, the order of the compositions and the minimal framing interventions. I work in the present and not with a projected past of a preconceived idea. I rid the design process of anticipations. I embrace the unconscious and irrational as well as chances, discoveries, and accidents. I shifted from the precise but predictable control to the uncontrollable occasions, which allow for chances in the making process. I aim to provoke contingencies and uncertainties. Happy or sad accidents happen. Each work is a discovery and not an effect that has been precisely and accurately planned.
Ideas emerge in a very different way when thinking through making. Connection between the hands and the brain are lost with digital tools. There is liberation with the direct manipulation of materials. Hands have the power to free us from the rational and linguistic. I learn how to think through making and welcome accidents and discoveries. The behaviour of the material itself inspires me. I look for the hidden potential in materials to reveal aesthetical and technical qualities. Glass and silver are melted together. Colours emerge by chemical reactions without the use of pigment. Shapes are formed not by blowing air in but by sucking air out. This is a new and challenging process for the glassmaker which involves risk — the outcome can never been ensured. Many days are spent experimenting until a moment of beauty intrigues me and this is the catalyst for a new body of work. By working in this way, I created and developed new ways of making process. I put in place the different stages of making and bring together the craftsmen similar to a choreography or an orchestration.
For more information:
Flavie Audi’s website
fated – a practice co-founded by Flavie Audi
Flavie Audi on Projects Review
Royal College of Art – Ceramics & Glass