Day out with Ras-amatazz

Thursday 20 September 2018

Malene with ‘Black Celebration at the V&A’

The day started with Danish pastries at the Danish Embassy where Malene Hartmann Rasmussen was interviewed by Alun Graves, Keeper of Ceramics at the Victoria and Albert Museum about the work she has created at the museum during the last year as the Danish ceramic artist in residence.
Malene explained that her work is inspired by children’s books about trolls as well as the sense of uhyggelig the uncanny underpinning much of Danish culture.
Her work, exquisitely wrought ‘green men’ made of leaves, trolls and beasts, flowers and bugs, acorns, tree stumps, spiders, rabbits and corn dollies have featured in two in two exhibitions at Messums Wiltshire showcasing Europe’s best contemporary ceramic artists. She is also creating some new works for an exhibition of contemporary ceramics we are curating for the Koç Foundation in Istanbul next September.
In the afternoon a group of Messums Wiltshire patrons met in the main sculpture hall of the V&A where Malene has transformed an Italian Renaissance grotto made by Bernard Palissy for Catherine de Medici into one inhabited by a man made of seaweed and a pink frog. Behind him are some stalactites also made by Malene creating a surreal vignette in a gallery otherwise dominated by works by Giambologna, Rodin and Canova.
We admired how wet and lifelike the seaweed looks; the glaze is fired at such a high temperature (1280 Celsius rather than the usual 1080) that the glaze vitrifies meaning that it can withstand frost as it doesn’t absorb any water; perfect for a fountainhead in the grotto which Malene plans to make.
We then went upstairs and visited Malene’s studio, situated rather publicly in a glass walled room adjoining the ceramics galleries. ‘It does feel rather like a gold-fish bowl but I have got used to having people watching me work’ she said.
Apart from her kiln which has a six-foot-high chimney, we saw the first in a new line of troll heads made of pebbles and shells and her ceramic ‘diamonds’, all using this remarkable new, extremely subtle and lifelike watery glaze.
The like a mermaid’s cave, full of sea life; from the tiniest winkle to the biggest anemone as well as clams, sea snails, stalactites and seaweeds.
Particularly beautiful is a new work woven out of some green snakes, each curling and coiling with the poetry of those you see in the borders of medieval illuminated manuscripts.
the afternoon concluded with some delicious coffee served by Malene and some langues de chats; as delicate and delicious as Malene’s ceramic art.

Read more about Malene Hartmann Rasmussen at

Photos: Sylvain Deleu

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