Sticky Smooth

This extract is taken from a paper written by Edmund de Waal (Think Tank) for the fourth exhibition and publication entitled ‘Gift’. Here he discusses Alfred Gell’s idea of decoration as adhesive or in de Waal’s term ‘stickiness’ and considers this in relation to the work of the silversmith, David Clarke.

…I started by thinking about decoration as stickiness, of Gell’s idea of decoration as adhesive.

Talking to David Clarke brought this alive to me as a silversmith he has begun to find smoothness problematic. One way he found of dealing with this was to attack the surface of the silver with salt and lead, to scar it.

Another was to find sticky objects. He bids for objects on Ebay that have had no other bids. They arrive he says, literally sticky, smelling of cigarette-smoke and polish wrapped in newspaper. They are sticky in that they are unwanted, commodities that have got stuck. And they function as traps: highly decorated metal birdlime.

He cuts them up, elongates, foreshortens, wraps them heightened and truncated so that dissonant patterns are created and decoration subverted. Their functionality is not so much borrowed as nicked.

This is not a gift. It is a steal. Smoothness is added to bits of his objects, like botox.

Think Tank is a European Initiative for the Applied Arts, other members include;

Dr. Peter Assmann, Linz/Austria; Liesbeth den Besten, Amstelveen/Netherlands; Gabi Dewald, Lorsch/Germany; Mònica Gaspar, Barcelona/Spain and Zürich/Switzerland; Dr. Tanya Harrod, London/Great Britain, Love Jönsson, Göteborg/Sweden, Dr. Louise Mazanti, Copenhagen/Denmark; Prof. Dr. Jorunn Veiteberg, Bergen/Norway and Copenhagen/Denmark.

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