Ceramic sculptor Harriet Diamond submitted documentation of her installation Continuum when she won a 2013 Artist Fellowship. Continuum accumulates many small, finely detailed sculptural scenes that constitute an exploration of war on a scale that’s grand both in theme and in physical space. Within that grand scale, though, are depictions of smaller moments of striking intimacy: new soldiers, stripped, carry their uniforms as they are inducted into the military; parents lovingly raise a boy, in successive ceramic “scenes,” as he grows into a soldier.
With Letting the Days Go By, a retrospective of family-themed, life-size sculptures at Oxbow Gallery in Northampton this November, the scales are reversed. The sculptures are life-size, and the intimate portraits of family life are at the center of the work. The works represent an earlier stage in the artists’ career, but the seeds of her later, more overtly political work, are there.
The exhibition’s bright, living figures are full of gesture, fun, and honesty, and they capture who and what the sculptor loves. Representing two decades of sculptural work, they also reflect a gradually evolving commentary on a broader world.
“When I made these sculptures I felt that expressing the joy of being in the middle of things, and by this I mean a family, was enough. But over time a more complex set of feeling revealed itself. The fact that our happiness is infinitely vulnerable and that there is no perfect and protected family world plays throughout these pieces. So the political grew out of the personal for me. After all, it is who and what we love that move us to action,” says Harriet.
Images: courtesy of the artist.