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After Amphora I (2022)

Amy Jayne Hughes

Museum & Art Swindon

After Amphora I (2022)

© Amy Hughes. Courtesy of Cynthia Corbett Gallery. Photo credit: Cristina Schek







44 x 35 cm


Presented by the Contemporary Art Society through the Omega Fund, 2023/24

Ownership history:

Purchased from Cynthia Corbett Gallery, London by the Contemporary Art Society, 2023; presented to Museum & Art Swindon, 2023/24
Amy Hughes is a ceramicist who explores form and decoration, often establishing dialogues between the two. The heritage of ceramics is fundamental to Hughes as a practitioner as she cites the importance of learning from the past to achieve an in-depth, holistic understanding of the medium and its history. Fascinated with vases fuelled by the 18th Century, Hughes’ contemporary creations often pay homage to older forms and techniques. Her works strike a balance between being playful and vibrant, whilst maintaining the distinct shape of vessels that have served a historical purpose. With these vases, Hughes seeks to bridge the gaps between the past and the present in existing collections and historical spaces.

After Amphora I (2022) comes from a series of hand-built stoneware vases. These pieces take inspiration from ancient Greek pottery, seeking to stimulate conversion surrounding the distinctive, ancient storage jars and the intricate decoration that was painted upon them. Hughes references the amphora vessel specifically, which is a type of container used by the ancient Greeks to transport and store various products - most notably wine. Characterised by its pointed base, amphorae often have at least two expansive handles that join the shoulder of the vessel’s body to its long neck. Hughes, exploring and enlarging the forms on the coil and slab built forms, creates exciting patterns and shapes with a lively and painterly approach that gives them a new vibrant lease of life. In After Amphora I, the universal form has been deconstructed: broken pieces of ceramics appear to be glued onto the vase whilst strokes that appear unfinished adorn its neck and base. As a result, Hughes’ vessels comment on the obsolescence of such vases, commemorating their contribution to history through recreating them as decorative items.

After Amphora I complements many other experimental hand-built vessels within the Museum’s studio ceramics and abstract painting collection. Museum & Art Swindon boasts a collection of archaeology and locally excavated ancient vessels, which will generate a dialogue about the past, present and speculative futures of ceramics with After Amphora I. Hughes’ work also reflects the fragmentation of history in archaeological digs, and the tension between presence and absence that characterises the excavation and reconstruction process.

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