Fragments of Narrative
Christie Brown (19 May - 18 June 2000)

In 1997, Christie Brown was commissioned by WPT to make a body of work for the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station. The exhibition eventually emerged in the year 2000 after some delays, due to the ongoing at the time transformation of the derelict post-industrial building into an art space.

The exhibition was the most challenging body of work I had ever produced. …

My figurative practice relates to discourses from archaeology and psychoanalysis and the symbolic parallel between these disciplines. The archaeological process can be compared to psychoanalysis, in which layer after layer is carefully stripped away in search of a fragmented truth which can offer insight and knowledge or transformation and healing. Fragments of statuary and pottery shards provide us with information about the past. From the academies of the early Renaissance to contemporary museology the study of these archaic scraps offer knowledge, a way of learning, and provide us with stories about our ancestors, however incomplete these narratives may be.

Inspired by narratives that make reference to myths of creation, and objects from burial sites which embody rites of passage, my work connects to the viewer through the overlap between the personal and the universal. While exploring the transformative qualities of clay and the metaphorical associations of the casting process, it exploits the material’s capacity to receive an imprint, connecting to ideas about mimesis and the patterns of repetition in human life.

In many ways I view my practice as embodiments of transition from one state to another, of transformation and individuation, and I would like to present two series of work made over the last six years which illustrate these ideas. …

The commission was to make a body of work in response to this large industrial site by the Thames. The scale of the space was daunting and challenging. The structure of the main interior echoed a Romanesque church with high windows and columns, and the whole site was filled with the traces and memories of its previous existence as a place where steam power was generated to animate bridges and lifts. This was my first experience of making work that required a response to a particular site, and it enabled me to broaden out my ideas beyond the personal and subjective.

Christie Brown, Embodying Transformation, Interpreting Ceramics, Issue 8


The exhibition was supported by the University of Westminster, the Crafts Council and the London Arts Board.