The title, “Orrery”, references the popular astronomic mechanical model used to represent the positions, motions, and phases of the solar system. Here, the artist has borrowed the circular, mobile aesthetic of a traditional orrery and adapted the functional mechanized elements to rotate his ceramic pieces in a way that animates the negative spaces between the vessel’s forms. The spatial profiles between each of the twenty-four carefully aligned vessels reveals the outline of male and female bodies in place of the solar planets.
The human forms that appear between the ceramic components are idealized and generalized, opening the work to what has been described as an “erotic interpretation”. Historically, ceramics have often engaged the body and its functions. For instance, erotic references have appeared on ceramics in the form of prehistoric amulets, or images on Greek vases. For Payce, the anthropomorphic elements both attract the viewer and provoke more attentive engagement with the work. The silhouetted figures draw a direct connection between the human body and the way in which we describe a ceramic vessel’s form in language: foot, belly, waist, shoulder, neck, mouth. As Payce himself has said, “vessel forms are essentially abstractions of human forms”.
Born in 1956 in Edmonton, Alberta, Greg Payce has been making ceramics for over 45 years. He earned a BFA from the University of Alberta in 1977 and an MFA in ceramics from NSCAD University in 1987. From 1988 to 2015, Payce was a permanent faculty member of the Alberta College of Art & Design in Calgary.
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