Beginning in 2006 the British artist created a variety of unique ceramic spray cans. Ten of these spray cans are now part of The Widewalls Collection. They are ceramic slips with silver luster and on-glaze, layered, printed transfers. Carrie Reichardt chose the spray can because it is a contemporary, iconic symbol of resistance that resonates with a growing audience for urban and street art. She wanted to expose them to certain ideas, to a particular kind of political content. Graffiti, writing on walls is a potent, expressive form. Carrie experimented with different shapes and forms of spray cans. Using a range of traditional and experimental techniques Carrie Reichardt could introduce the kind of images and texts to the clay surface, that she would have referenced if she had the ability to use a real aerosol can artfully. Capital punishment and colonialism are dominant themes. These ideas are juxtaposed, composited and bonded by the process, into the surface of the objects. Every spray can is an original work of art. Carrie Reichardt occasionally created small, thematically linked sets of up to ten cans. However within a set each item is one of a kind. She worked in small batches, the success of which is never guaranteed. In each batch the artist may lose one or all of the pieces. It takes two to three weeks to create each batch.
Carrie Reichardt explains the story of every can...
Carrie Reichardt is a leading contemporary artist, who works from a mosaic-covered studio in London, The Treatment Rooms. A figurehead for the Craftivism movement, Carrie uses murals, ceramics, screen-printing and graphic design in her work and is called upon to speak on the use of craft and art as protest – most recently for the British Association of Modern Mosaic’s annual symposium at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2012. This year she will be the keynote speaker at the Mosaic Association of Australia and New Zealand International symposium.
Inspired by William Morris and the long-standing tradition of subversive ceramics in the UK, Carrie Reichardt has created ‘Mad in England’. A series of affordable, subversive souvenirs that celebrate the protestor and tap into a national mood of dissent that reaches from Occupy the City to UK Uncut.
My pen pal of 5 years, Luis Ramirez was executed in 2007. I visited him in jail two days before he was killed. The Day of the Dead skull appeared frequently in my work at this time.
Fear is a tool of control is an aphorism I liked. The image is the Eye of Providence, a detail from the Great Seal of The United States. The image appears on the US one dollar bill. As Seen On TV is just a transfer I that interested me, a juxtaposition of things.
The face in the image is of Rachel Corrie an American peace activist crushed to death by an Israel Defense Forces armoured bulldozer in Rafah, Israel. She was 23 years old. I find the whole idea of the conflict traumatising and see predictable patterns in the on-going tragedy… the abused become the abuser. These types of images are often sanitised and detached from reports of the events that they describe.
A lot of my work is about juxtaposing incongruous elements. Mixing images, ideas and contexts. I was searching for new ways to view an object. In this untitled piece I used a Delftware style decal, decontextualized but somehow unaltered. I used it as a format to experiment with transfers.
Very old transfers are fragile and challenging to work with. The figure of the boy is an Italian transfer; the smaller decal is from the US both pre 1960s. They represent a super idealised reality. In 2008 the mysterious disappearance of bee colonies around the world (colony collapse disorder) was a regular news item. The idea that the demise of our bees may presage the extinction of mankind led me to often include images of bees in my work at that time.
When the Europeans came we had our land and they had their bible, now they have our land and we have their bible. I was inspired by this quote often attributed to Jomo Kenyatta or Desmond Tutu. The images and ideas speak about Crusades and Crusaders, Imperialism and religious and imperialism. Even though the imagery is specifically Christian, what I tried to express with this piece apply equally to all conquering religions and dominating theologies.
During this period I was rather obsessed with Day of the Dead its cultural meanings and utility. The transfers are beautiful 1970s flat designs, with intense colour. On this piece I am really working with the elements with a focus on colour. I was trying to push the object to a maximum number of firings, laying more and more colours on to the surface.
I wanted to bring together a super grouping of military, corporate and religious global marketing phenomena of our age. The bible has been successfully promoted for more than a thousand years. The popular image of Santa was commissioned and designed for Coca Cola in 1930. Ronald MacDonald, Mickey Mouse and Disney’s saccharine vision, implore you to love the USA. Bombs can make that difficult.
It makes us uncomfortable when we discover that our governments might not always have our best interests at heart. We want and need to trust them. Alternative readings of government behaviours are unpopular and often supressed. Most modern states even prevent the open analysis of their actions for decades after events; See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil. On one side I have placed a map of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident (1964), describing the known ‘false flag’ event that provided the legal justification for the military build up that ended with the start of the Vietnam War. The other side of the spray can features images from the 9/11 destruction of the Twin Towers (2001). It is said that this may also be a false flag event. I hope that this piece will be a prompt, an aide memoir for those brave enough to dare to search for truths.
Since 2000 I have written regularly to prisoners on death row in the United States. In 2005 I visited my friend Luis Ramirez in Texas two days before he was executed. In 2008 I returned to Texas to witness the execution of another, John Joe ‘Ash’ Amador at the Huntsville correctional facility. I made this is as part of series of 10 spray cans when I returned to London from Texas. The pieces record and reflect my personal experience of this period. The business of State murder is mechanical and routine. The process is wrapped up in ritual and good manners. I wanted to scream and I wanted to shout, I saw Ash’s wife, Linda Amador shake hands with polite men who a short while later, executed her husband as she watched. A simple, intense religiosity underpins everything and erases all doubts. Hideous imagery hand in hand with cloying tweeness and religious certainty