Sculptor Nicholas Rena and weaver Stella Benjamin in Harmony of the Year in Cambridge

By Culture24 Reporter | 04 June 2013

Exhibition preview: The Harmony of the Year, Lynne Strover Gallery, Cambridge, June 5-29 2013

A photo of a large square yellow and black loom weaving
Stella Benjamin weaves on an upright frame-loom using a slow tapestry technique in which the warps are fixed top and bottom and the weaver drops the work down gradually. This loom was made for her by artist Bryan Illsley© Lynne Strover Gallery / Stella Benjamin
Described as a possessor of “great power” by Edmund de Waal, who also called him the most ambitious domestic ceramic sculptor around, Nicholas Rena’s collaboration with Stella Benjamin, a St Ives weaver with a particular skill for striking looms, looks like being a symbiotic one to savour.

Schooled in architecture at Cambridge University and Ceramics at the Royal College of Art, Rena has won the Saatchi’s Art Fund Award and the Jerwood Contemporary Makers nod for his bold, loud works, which also form part of the display within the corridors of 10 Downing Street.

His meticulous, thick-walled pieces take 11 weeks to make. The Louvre, where some of them are on show, chose them for their “perfect finishes” and “genuine intensity”.

“My work is heavy, thick and still,” says the artist. “In a world de-materialising into an anti-physical one of text and images, speed and noise, my material tries to be as palpable as it can, reproaching and world gone virtual.”

Benjamin, meanwhile, also specialises in a tradition: the specialist textile art of Navajo weaving, which she uses to create rugs and wall hangings, slowly composing each one in hand-spun Turkish yarns dyed in rich, saturating colours.

More pictures:

A photo of a male sculptor making a red and blue ceramic piece
Rena's works are held by the Louvre, the V and A, the British Council and the Carnegie Institute© Lynne Strover Gallery / Nicholas Rena
A photo of a series of curvy green sculptures
© Lynne Strover Gallery / Nicholas Rena
A photo of a large circular purple bowl next to an abstract green sculpture
© Lynne Strover Gallery / Nicholas Rena
A photo of a thick blue bowl
© Lynne Strover Gallery / Nicholas Rena
A photo of a tall brown sculpture
© Lynne Strover Gallery / Nicholas Rena
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