Last week I visited Struktuur 68, a ceramic studio in Den Haag. This ceramic factory specialises in assisting public artwork artists to create large-scale ceramic works. It was very impressive to the scale of some of the works being created in the studio. Some of the sculptures towered almost 3 to 4 meters tall. But the staff reassured me that they just use 15th century techniques to create their ceramic work. Struktuur 68 has been operating since 1968, providing ceramic assistance and expertise to ceramic artists projects.
I went to check out Tanja Smeets public artwork piece. She is developing a large-scale works of flowing organic, Chinese soup spoons. The original free flowing artwork, developed originally from hand sculpting spoons has been developed into a process based, manufactured work at Struktuur 68. The streamlining of the creation of the work has meant that Smeet can develop the large work with greater speed and accuracy. Firstly the Chinese spoons have been created using 3 dimensional modeling techniques. These foam pieces have been cast, the plaster moulds are then used to stamp out the multiple ceramic versions of the spoons. Smeet then hand joins the ceramic pieces together, of which there are 23 pieces to create for this particular art project.
It was interesting to see the transformation of the working process when working on a large scale. The artistic process becomes more industrial; the artist becomes slightly detached from the creation of the work. However, it is also reassuring to see the same techniques that I use to teach high school ceramic students to create smaller sculptures are still relevant at such a huge scale.