Phoebe Collings-James works across sculpture, video, sound and performance. Her works speak of the debris of violence, language and desire, which are inherent to living and surviving within hostile environments. Her recent work has dealt with the notion of the object as subject, giving life and tension to ceramic forms.
Live and Active Gut Cultures or Subaltern Spirit Guides or the Detritus of Devotional Memorabilia, 2019, is made of 50 volcan black ceramic tiles, on which white symbols, patterns and words are engraved and painted. Among these is the figure of the spider – specifically the folk character Anansi. Anansi is a trickster who lives by his wits to survive. His origins are found in the Ashanti tribe of West Africa, during the transatlantic slave trade the folklore travelled to the Caribbean and Americas. This symbol represents a mode of being that is linked to survival and resistance, under colonial rule and capitalism. The use of traditional slipware and design techniques, which Collings-James has employed here for the first time, gives the mural an anachronistic feeling – the codes and shapes inscribed on the slabs seem to be telling us an ancestral story. Meanwhile, the presence of birth dates, slang words, and graffiti-like forms ground the work in the present.
- Artwork Details: 320 x 200cm
- Material description: 50 glazed volcan black ceramic tiles
- Credit line: © the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and Arcadia Missa, London
- Medium: Ceramic
- Accession number: ACC24/2021