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Phoebe Cummings: I hear myself with my throat

[ Exhibition )

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Photograph of a floral arrangement made from grey white clay on a dark blue background

Experience art like never before with Phoebe Cummings’ raw clay sculpture.

Alongside the Shape of Things: Still Life in Britain exhibition, Phoebe Cummings is crafting a special installation in the Gallery’s 18th-century townhouse. Using raw clay, she will shape the artwork to mirror the features of the house. The work will explore themes of fragility, impermanence, and materiality often found in still life.

Cummings shapes the clay by hand, creating organic and floral shapes that often bear her fingerprints. Her sculptures highlight humanity’s impact on nature, reflecting on how we portray the natural world in art and design throughout history. With a focus on sustainability in her practice, Cummings will recycle the clay at the end of the exhibition.

Photograph of Phoebe Cummings in her studio sat on a wooden chair shaping clay on a stool in front of her. Behind her is a wooden desk with plants hanging down the cupboard behind.

Artist bio - Phoebe Cummings

Phoebe Cummings (b.1981) creates intricate sculptures and installations using unfired clay. She often works on location, responding directly to the specific qualities of a site. The fleeting nature of the medium is a vehicle through which she delves into the themes of fragility, impermanence and materiality. Her practice reflects upon different temporalities; how the time-consuming process of making contrasts with the briefness of the works’ existence. Cummings uses her hands to form the clay into abundant organic and floral forms, often leaving fingerprints in the material. Her sculpture highlights how we have cultivated the natural world, responding to the adaptation and stylisation of nature in the history of art and design. She draws upon many sources of inspiration including fiction and poetry, writing being an important part of her practice. Through reusing clay at the end of the project, Cummings has developed a sustainable method of working, which also avoids the need for a kiln or permanent studio.

Cummings was born in Walsall and currently resides in Stafford. She studied ceramics at University of Brighton in 2002 before completing an MA at the Royal College of Art in 2005. She has undertaken a number of artist residencies in the UK, USA and Greenland. In 2017, she won first place at the inaugural Woman’s Hour Craft Prize with work exhibited at the V&A. She is currently Research Associate at the Ceramics Research Centre UK, University of Westminster.