An exhibition of new work by ceramicist-in-residence


Karen Thompson

Sat 9th June – Sat 7th July 2012
Fri/Sat/Sun 11.00 am – 4.00 pm and by appointment

Admission is free

Karen Thompson’s exhibition borrows its title from a toy ‘model farm’ pack,  the kind you might give to a child for rather worthy educational purposes.  The artist translates elements of this ‘model farm’ to explore much darker  aspects of a contemporary agricultural theme linked inextricably to the  production, supply, packaging, branding and consumption of food.

The installation invites the viewer to share the artist’s concerns through  associations implied by the arrangement of  ceramic sculptural figures,  drawings and photographic images. ‘Farm World’ is a deftly constructed  installation which invites closer inspection and contemplation; all is not what  it seems down on the farm, and the rural idyll becomes less of a reality than  we’d like to imagine.

Inevitably the agricultural theme incorporates ethical and ecological concerns  about the impact of current day farming methods and food production on the  environment; genetic engineering of crops, use of pesticides, erosion of  natural habitats and the frequently inhumane rearing and slaughter of animals.

These strands are suggested, hinted at darkly, and presented obliquely in  the work. The figure of a ‘model farm’ worker, for example, takes on an ambiguity  through the alteration of scale which creates a disturbing and threatening aspect  to his role and identity. Decorative ceramic pots used to store eggs in millions of  kitchens up and down the country translate into something far more ominous.  The domestic takes on global economic and environmental ramifications.

It’s appropriate that ceramics is the primary medium for ‘Farm World’. We cook  our food in ceramic dishes and eat off ceramic plates and bowls every day, without a second thought. Our choice of dinner service reflects our lifestyle,  income and social aspirations. Karen Thompson’s ceramic figures are not,  however, as reassuring as first impressions might lead us to believe.

Karen Thompson has been ceramicist-in-residence at Crescent Arts since 2010.  She graduated with a BA (Hons) Ceramics from Bath Spa University and studied ceramics and glass at the Royal College of Art in 2009-10. Recent exhibitions  include ‘Unbreakable’ at Goose and Moose in Malton,2011, and Showcase at the National  Glass Centre in Sunderland, 2011-2012. She runs ceramics workshops at Crescent Arts  and has participated in Scarborough Art Gallery’s recent workshops programme.  Scarborough Museums Trust commissioned ‘Charmology Head’, a ceramic work for  the current exhibition ‘Fears, Foes and Faeries’ at Scarborough Art Gallery showing until  the 30th September 2012. Karen Thompson is happy to discuss further commissions.

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