25 November – 16 December 2023
In Little Saints Sassy Park impressionistically models family, friends, celebrities and artists and considers the role of contemporary figurative depiction in relation to religious and spiritual traditions and ideas. The works are predominately busts and small figures and are informed by a long art/ceramic history: fourth century BC Greek Tanagra figures; religious iconography; eighteenth century figurines from Staffordshire and Europe, Della Robbia majolicas in particular; Merric Boyd figures from the 1920’s; and the work of contemporary artists Hilton Nel and Stephen Benwell. Accompanying her tenderly interpreted figurative works are ceramic slides – heavy, breakable and unwearable – an upside down ‘bucket’ head, a pair of ceramic plaques and a number of eggcups and these are all intriguing in their own right. Trained as a painter and then again in ceramics, Park experiments here with both.
Little Saints is a translation of the Provençal term ‘Santons’ which describes small religious figures used traditionally in church-based nativity depictions. When churches were closed and public worship banned during the French Revolution, Santons were made instead for private situations and the cast of characters grew to include secular figures that paid tribute to local, familiar, people: a butcher, a seamstress, the baker, and more. Continuing this tradition, Park experiments with ways that individuals might similarly be accorded honor in the contemporary world.