For HOT MESS, Tegan Emerson is presenting a series of sculptural ceramic pieces which play on the organic forms of coastal rocks and corals. Globular yet hollow, these sea vessels embody the unknown mythologies of the ocean, reminiscent both of shell housings for maritime vertebrates as well as the ritual tools of a sunken civilization.
Inspiration for the works is drawn from a geological underwater event that took place in 2019, when an submarine volcano in the Pacific Ocean erupted and sent an enormous raft of floating pumice drifting towards Australia. Pumice rafts are recurring natural phenomenons which act as floating island homes to a vast array of creatures, while simultaneously facilitating novel migrations carrying life vast distances along oceanic currents. In reference to this, Emerson’s artworks feature densely worked surfaces with small hand-poked holes. These physicalities represent the texture of rock and reefs while metaphorically alluding to small portals into new worlds–wormholes of seaward possibility.
Inherent in Emerson’s practice is the exploration of ceramic materiality, surface textures and glaze chemistry. The medium of clay establishes a direct relationship between the artist and nature, allowing Emerson to explore the passage of time and what erosion means in regards to vitrified objects. Luxuriously tactile, these ceramic forms inhabit a realm somewhere over the Mediterranean Sea. Hovering between a submerged long-lost Atlantis and the gravitational pull of the moon, Emerson conjures the ceremonial forms of tidal shifts and lunar worship.
Tegan Emerson (b. 1990 in Sydney) is an Australian ceramicist and artist based in Berlin. Her work is produced using hand-building techniques to create sculptural vessels. Emerson has a background in archives, studying MA Museum/Curatorial Studies and a BA in Fine Arts (Photomedia) at the University of Sydney. Alongside her ceramic work, Tegan is an archivist and contemporary art collection specialist. In 2021, she co-founded and co-curated the exhibition Vessels: New Berlin Crafts and in 2020 she exhibited at 1000 Vases in Paris.