The strange & continual: Sam Bakewell’s Imagination Dead Imagine

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Image copyright Ceramic Review

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At the heart of this year’s British Ceramics Biennial is AWARD, the festival’s signature centrepiece exhibition. Katherine Caddy reviews Imagination Dead Imagine, Sam Bakewell’s winning installation 

Selected by a panel of judges including Alun Graves and Clare Twomey, BCB’s AWARD is serious business. Its scope, scale and vision are evident the moment one enters the old Spode Factory. Work by twelve artists, ranging from monumental and vibrant to little and eerie, spans the China Hall, full of daylight and traces of the labour that took place at Spode during its golden years.

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Photo: Sylvain Deleu; courtesy the British Ceramics Biennial

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Amidst lively work by Caroline Tattersall and still, ambiguous pieces by Mella Shaw stands Sam Bakewell’s Imagination Dead Imagine: a curious pale clay hut that beckons one inside, sparking a sense of anxiety and wonder. Hunching down and reaching its centre, one might feel an outsider or trespasser.

The strange, indecipherable ceramic objects, each given their own little cubby hole or corner, are bewildering in their anonymity. The scent of clay and lack of a human resting place or roof make this piece a dream-like homage to a ceramic artist’s history, making and design processes; a celebration of work envisaged, tested, progressed or discarded – of the in-between and the continual.

Sam lives and works in London. He studied at the Royal College of Art, was a QEST scholar and worked as a studio assistant to Edmund de Waal from 2012. He is interested in the realm of ‘homespun religion, personal talismans and object making, and how clays raw link to the chthonic stands in opposition to its capacity for perfection.’  

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Discover more on the British Ceramics Biennial and Sam’s work at britishceramicsbiennial.com, and find the artist on Instagram: instagram.com/sambakewell