Blue Jeans & Brown Clay
Artists and Designers at the J B Blunk house, curated by Mariah Nielson
3 December 2020 - 31 January 2021
Kate MacGarry is delighted to present Blue Jeans & Brown Clay, an exhibition of new work by London-based artists and designers who have visited and worked at the Blunk House.Blunk's home is nestled in a densely wooded ridge above Inverness, California, a small town fifty miles north of San Francisco.
Over the course of decades of work, this construction became Blunk's most important creation. The house was built between 1959 and 1962 with salvaged materials from nearby beaches, forests and scrapyards and is a Gesamtkunstwerk, in that the artist and his wife, Nancy Waite Harlow, made everything from the doors to the furniture and the ceramic tableware. The house expressed Blunk's vision of a humble and sympathetic integration between art and life, and a profound respect for landscape and our place within it.Ignoring the traditional separation of art and design, Blunk worked without a conception of fixed categories.
His attitude towards these classifications suggests the Japanese lack of distinction between art and craft. The artists and designers included in the exhibition have each spent time at the Blunk House, either as artists in residence or guests of the Blunk family. The work made for the show includes ceramics, glass, jewellery, furniture, painting, and film, and draws on the creative spirit and design of the house and Blunk's oeuvre.
I consider this whole place - house, studio, fruit trees, vegetable garden and chickens - one big sculpture.
JB Blunk, 1977
"I found JB’s spontaneous way of working with clay very inspiring. My favourite bit from the Blunk book is the interview with his assistant Rick Yoshimoto. The conversation really helped me understand JB’s creative ethos. I loved how he didn't use tools to work with clay, just his hands, and his statement “Just do the work” stuck with me. When I was making the pieces for this show I imagined him telling me that, it was my motto."