Isabella Bilstein + Roz Adams
5/9/18 – 29/9/18
Text by Jamie Stevenson
“Do Not Touch.” Here are words of unchecked power; cold and cruel, insidious in their familiarity. In an age where lies greet the eyes with a twinkling grin, the ability to reach out and feel grows ever more elusive. We are told to believe what we see and trust what we hear, while every advancement in digital technology only increases human capacity for illusion.
To touch, however, is to defy such deception. To grasp something – to feel the weight in your hands and the texture on your skin – is to truly know that thing. As babies, our primal thirst for knowledge begins at the tips of our fingers; we prod and stroke and squeeze and poke our way through the world, consuming everything through its tactility. All these little snippets of sensation come together and fuse in our subconscious, imbuing every familiar sight and sound with the comforting certainty of having felt it somewhere before.
‘Becoming One’ is a collaborative exhibition by metal smith Roz Adams and ceramicist Isabella Bilstein. By interweaving their contrasting individual creative practices, they have fashioned a platform for a layered and tactile engagement with the materials and processes that are central to their work. The sanctity of the finished object is broken down to reveal the rich narrative behind each polished edge and textured glaze, and the viewer is invited to follow the materials on their journey from raw building block to realised outcome. Importantly, care is taken not to disregard all the deviations from that path; the hiccups, the unintended happenings, inevitable by-products of such complex, time-consuming and unpredictable making processes.
The melding of two such distinct practices allows not only for a juxtaposition of aesthetic and form, but also for a unique marriage between the materials in question. Alongside individual pieces, Roz and Isabella have created a series of collaborative works that combine metal casting with functional and sculptural ceramics to create hybrid forms. There is an enthusiasm here not for completion, but for experimentation and discovery. It is a testament to the skill and understanding possessed by these two artists – and the respect they have for their chosen crafts – that they are able to leave the fate of the outcome so firmly in the hands of the materials they use. Two ideas; one alive and molten, one fired into permanence, are buried together in the sand. They emerge as one. They are not greedy; the hungry clay does not devour the pewter’s liquid sheen, and neither does that silver gleam outshine the richness of the earth. Instead, they stand as tactile monuments to conversation and knowledge shared. Here are whole objects with stories not concealed by the illusion of perfection, but laid bare at the surface, well within reach.