Dreams Made Manifest: Halima Cassell

3 Jun 2009 – 18 Jul 2009


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University of Hertfordshire Galleries is delighted to present Dreams Made Manifest, a major touring exhibition by ceramic artist Halima Cassell from 20-21 Visual Arts Centre. Halima Cassell is one of the UK's leading young ceramic artists. Born in Pakistan and brought up in Manchester and her current hometown of Blackburn, Cassell now exhibits her acclaimed ceramics throughout the world. Dreams Made Manifest is her largest solo exhibition to date and includes examples of her trademark carved ceramic vessels, alongside a series of new bronzes and sculptural work. Highly sought after by collectors worldwide, she has been commissioned to produce works for numerous municipal collections, including most recently a major new piece for the new Hepworth Art Centre in Wakefield. Cassell's recent work explores traditional sculptural concerns of form and material, and a dialogue between the geometric patterns present in her earlier work and more organic flowing lines developed over the past few years. Also on display are new experimental works in brick, as well as new sculptures based on works broken in the firing process. During August and September 2008, supported by a grant from Arts Council England, Cassell worked as ‘Artist in Residence' at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre in Scunthorpe. She created new works in response to the architecture of the former church building housing the gallery, including new sculptures in stone and wood, and Sacred Conversation, a group of brick seating sculptures on display as part of this exhibition. Combining strong geometric elements with recurrent patterns and architectural principles, Cassell's work utilizes definite lines and dramatic angles in an attempt to manifest the universal language of number and create an unsettling sense of movement. To achieve these effects she uses heavily grogged clay that allows her to work on a large scale and utilize relatively thick surfaces to carve to the desired depth. Cassell concentrates on simple forms as the basis of her work in order to maximize the impact of the complex surface patterns in combination with heavily contrasting contours. This approach provides her with the tools to create the compelling drama and playful dynamism that characterizes her work. Cassell's varied multi-cultural background is tangibly present in her work. A natural creativity presented itself at an early age and was nurtured to fruition as she carved her way through an artbased education: an undergraduate degree in 1997 and an MA in 2002. The culmination of this process is Cassell's precociously mature work. Fusing her Asian roots with a fascination for African pattern work and a passion for architectural geometry, Cassell's work is intense yet playful, structured yet creative; substantial yet dynamic and invariably compelling in its originality.


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