Kintsugi Interview

With  Madeleine Morley for Port magazine (UK).

M/ What first drew you to the method?

S/ My son was a toddler when I started making Kintsugi. He would break stuff in his two year old way and then plaintively say ‘mama fix it’.  So it was a response to actual physical need, to thinking about his notion of me as a supernatural force of repair and to the redemptive gesture of taking what is busted and making it more beautiful, of the scars and cracks making a thing more valuable.

M/ Do you remember the first kintsugi piece you ever saw?

S/ No, it’s always just been a thing in the back of my mind.

M/ I’m also curious about what you’ve filled the cracks with – is it resin? Why did you decide on that material as opposed to traditional gold?

S/ The gold is applied to a lacquer base in the traditional technique, it doesn’t actually glue the bits together. So I was using something more available to me (you can buy it in the hardware shop) and probably a bit stronger.  I tint the epoxy with tempera powder.  The epoxy is nasty stuff, so I wear protective gear and feel abundant guilt at the unsustainability of my practices…

M/ I’m particularly fascinated by the Bloodbath piece and Green Line – could you tell me a bit more about these two works?

S/ When I started doing these my method was painstaking and archeological, these are getting looser and probably more impatient!  That the material I am working with is largely 70s and 80s studio ceramics is part of it too – handmade, earthy, authentic craft objects smashed and gummed back together with this nasty lurid synthetic goop. New Zealand and Japanese ceramicists had many exchanges during this period, so that has something to do with my application of a time-honoured Japanese technique to more contemporary ceramics from my own country.

Bloodbath reveals the dirty secret of these works – that mostly they are intact pieces that I have smashed, as buying cracked pots secondhand is actually rather difficult.  So there is a Munchausens by Proxy element to this.

Green Line is riffing off the glaze colour, but also thinking about scale, what a fracture or a line can read as – boundary, a rift, contested territory.

We can see worlds in our intimate objects…