There is something that is simultaneously mathematically calculated and organic about Mark Mitchell’s ceramic works. The surfaces are silky-smooth yet irregular; the interiors glow with a soft lustre yet are crazy-paved with craquelure lines; the geometries and geometricities of the external patterns are precise yet hold deliberate breaks; the colours glow and fade with subtle shifts of depth.
Our eyes are drawn to these inconsistencies, yet are held by the beauty of the results. Just as fine Persian rugs traditionally have a deliberate mistake in their construction (to honour the fact that only God can create perfection), so here we have exquisite forms which revel in their inconsistencies. Mitchell seeks to deliberately negotiate this border between order and disorder. His interest primarily lies in the interplay of vessel shape and pattern (1). In works such as Gilt I, the seemingly regular pattern of gold and blue triangles wraps around the ceramic concavities and convexities, emphasising the sensuality of the bowl’s nature. In other pieces, such as the eggshell pink and grey-blue Quaver, the pattern is deliberately rent — the physical form of the ceramic has “won”.
The title of the exhibition, Trig, presents us with several meanings to contemplate. It can refer to trigonometry, the branch of mathematics dealing with the relations between the triangular planes and spheres. The term is also an archaic word meaning true or fit for purpose. As objects of art and as vessels, these works are beautifully fit for purpose in their exploration of form and surface.