The sum of its parts
Firing, transportation and installation rely on sheets of clay being divided into tiles. The most familiar way of doing this is the uniform square or rectangular tiles that work so well on plain surfaces. However, Craig Bragdy Design’s unique, highly decorative ceramic designs require something more nuanced.
It is an aesthetic principle akin to that used in a stained glass window. An important difference is that the structural integrity of a window depends on the metal ‘cames’ that divide it. But, visually the idea is the same: each segment of glass and the metal that surrounds it must be working in harmony with the whole design of the window.
Examples of ceramic works where the cut of the clay governs the look of the whole are also inspiring points of reference. Sculptures in Barcelona by the American artist Beverly Pepper show how the lines can define a ceramic. These, prominent and un-grouted, drive the rhythm of the work. Michel Santry’s mural in Hong Kong highlights a similar technique, albeit geometric in style.
The same visual approach is applied to Craig Bragdy ceramics. An expansive sheet of wet clay is carefully laid on the factory floor, ready for the design to be scored and modelled onto the surface. As the composition emerges on the soft clay, artists with specialist training in cutting begin their work.
Each careful stroke of the knife must work with the design and become a rhythmical reference for what is being depicted. A school of fish, sinuously gliding through the water, is captured with a beautiful undulating swipe of the knife, whereas the jagged topography of a coral reef is caught with a smaller, sharper cut.
From straight lines of geometric patterns to swirling contours of fantastical scenes, from larger bodies of tile to miniature cells of fine detail, the fissures of the clay complements, adorns and augments the feature as a whole.