Sue is a PhD researcher at Westminster University’s Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM). Her practice-based research is titled “Aramaic Incantation Bowls and Contemporary Ceramic Art Practice”. It investigates connections between historical ceramic objects, critical theory and contemporary ceramic art practice, through the study of Aramaic incantation bowls from 5th-7th century CE Iraq. Through interdisciplinary critical and creative approaches, the research establishes connections between the fields of contemporary ceramic art practice, archaeology, ancient history and critical theory. The Aramaic bowls are ceramic bowls made from ordinary buff coloured clay covered in magical texts from 5th -7th century Iraq, found buried upside down in the floors and courtyards of ordinary Babylonian homes. Fundamentally concerned with the protection of occupants and the banishment of demons, they invoke a plethora of supernatural beings from across cultures to assist in this endeavour.
Research centres on a close reconsideration of these texts and the production of ceramic art work comprising an installation of three rooms, a spatial triptych in which the decorative fabric of the home manifests the physical and psychological unease registered in the bowl texts. This approach references the quasi-religious nature of the magic bowls, as well as the domestic environments in which they were usually found, and draws on the bowl texts as an archive of partially told stories with emergent themes and narratives. Two out of the three installations, Sub Rosa and Lilith by the Red Sea Carpet, have already been realised, and Wallpaper for the Nippur House is a preparatory work towards the third installation Flock, which is currently in process.
Wallpaper for the Nippur House
Lilith by the Red Sea Carpet
Hedgerow is a living plant art work that engages with ecological aesthetics and concerns. It contains multiple indigenous plant species found in UK countryside hedgerows, aiming to be a beautiful and thought provoking ‘life magnet’. Juxtaposing a slice of English countryside onto the urban cityscape, Hedgerow offers food and shelter to an alternative non-human community, as well as oxygen, beauty and amenity to its human visitors, and its placement within a new housing development proposes alternative notions of home. Hedgerow also reaches beyond its site into the community: together with local primary school pupils, we planted two ‘sibling’ hedgerows in their school grounds.