Material Change is a series of conversations and interviews about the relationship between the visual arts and ecology. In these discussions, we talk to artists, designers, organisations and material researchers working in the context of the ecological emergency.
We’re Sculpture Placement Group, primarily a research organisation whose projects interrogate the production and purpose of sculpture. Sculpture is inseparable from its materiality, its meaning is rooted in the materials and the processes involved in making it what it is. Our focus on this podcast is to examine the role materials have in the art making process, exploring the implications for the wider ecology and our relationship with the object.
This podcast is discursive and open, it is intended that this will allow people to follow the logic, analysis and patterns of how we formulate an action plan or integrate our findings into SPG’s wider work.
Benedette PompiliSocial Designer & Ceramic Researcher, Workshop Technician at Rijksakademie
In this episode of Material Change we chat to Benadette Pompili. Pompili is a social designer and ceramic researcher based in Amsterdam. Her practice is dedicated to materials and their narratives with a focus on the ecological impact of art, design and industrial production. Her research aims to spread knowledge, motivate care, and retrace tradition by thinking and acting intersectionally.
We talk in-depth about one of her key research projects that explores extractive stories of clays. Pompili worked with a polluted river clay, developing processes that used treated asbestos as a filler to lessen the amount of mined clay needed. The project’s dramatic findings are the result of a durational methodology that relied on the designer establishing conversations between materials and techniques, industry and craft, experts and institutions, scientific findings and cultural associations. It was also based in an ecology that Benedetta was deeply connected to, the region was where she was born and connects to her social and familial history.
We talk about how her practice informs her work as a Workshop Technician at the Rijksakademie, and how her interconnected approach inform the everyday workings of a busy ceramic workshop. It’s the confluence of these different perspectives that make Pompili’s experiences and approach so interesting – we hope you enjoy it!
Giulia BellinettiNature Research department & Future Materials Bank at the Jan van Eyck Academie
The Future Materials Bank is part of the innovative Nature Research Department at the Jan van Eyck Academie. Artists, designers and material researchers develop ecological materials and processes that inspire a reconceptualisation of our relationship to the object and the role of non-human actors in our lives.
The bank is both an online and physical thing, it’s a living document and resource of all the materials that have been developed thus far on the programme. Its intention to inspire is clear in the wealth of imagination and technique illustrated.
Leading the programme at the Nature Research department is Giulia Bellinetti. Previously a Coordinator of the Production Department at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Antwerp. She engaged with a wide range of art practices gaining a nuanced understanding of the cognitive, affective, and material configurations underlying contemporary art production. In recent years, Giulia has become increasingly interested in the ecological discourse in relation to contemporary art, institutional work and interdisciplinary forms of collaborations.
In this episode Giulia tells us about her journey, delving into some of the epistemological underpinnings of her research and the department. She’s both incredibly engaging and generous with her time, we hope you enjoy it!
Kate V RobertsonArtist & Co-Director at Sculpture Placement Group
In this episode we chat to artist Kate V Robertson about commissioning artworks, and how artists can navigate that process in a way that foregrounds the ecology. We go into detail about a specific commission in a public commercial setting that she has produced, examining the impact that different stakeholders can have in the production process and her relationship with materials in this artwork and others.
Robertson works in print, sculpture and installation, with a focus on materials and processes. She selects materials based on their associations. Systems of technology, advertising and print media are all explored through the materiality of the artworks. Kate is also one of the directors of Sculpture Placement Group, advocating for more sustainable practices in the visual arts. From this dual perspective, she has a depth of understanding about different methods of commissioning and the material reality of contemporary art production.