Previous AA2A Artist

Brigitte Soltau

Project summary:

My recent full-time MA began a new body of work, exploring the idea of urban archaeology – traces and remains, the intentional and accidental layering of materials creating a physical memory of the city. I was inspired by Antony Gormley’s view that for those interested in traces, clay is the ideal material to offer a bridge between life and a record of life. There was great significance also in the words of Italo Calvino in Invisible Cities: “The city.. does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand..”

I am drawing specifically on my memories of a particular place, the Hulme estate in Manchester, and my photographic records of its demolition in the 1990’s. The containment of memory in the fabric of a place has become a major theme in my work, and I aim to contribute my own narrative through clay form and surface.

My process is heavily materials-led. The mimetic qualities of clay inspire a range of surfaces and forms that conjure the urban environment. The paper I use in my clay - the shredded archive of the Hulme estate - has symbolic importance. A different narrative, the story of years of campaigning, literally incorporated. Reproducing photographic images onto and into the clay surface provides indelible evidence. Reduction firing too has symbolic signifcance: Hulme has twice been razed to the ground, and I want the flames of the kiln to engulf and change the work, for the clay to be tested, scorched, minerals to surfce and vitrify, colours to intensify, forms to shift.

I aim to continue this exploration of the connection between memory and materiality, and also to explore work on a new scale. I wish to further develop techniques and ideas for combining clay and print, and clay and text.

'Hulme 5 Tower'
crank clay extrusions and slabs, printed paperclay layers, painted slips, matt glazes - 61 x 29cm