The Airfoil and Velocity Series
Work in porcelain by Emilka Radlinska, Scotland, UK
Like a feather suddenly detached from some migrating bird, a 396 tonne 747 sweeps into the sky, cradling life within its technological womb. It is almost inconceivable that an object somewhat akin to a multi-story building in size and weight can become so gracefully airborne.
As the ground drops away, I feel vulnerable and almost weightless. A feeling of anticipation builds. Five hundred humans are swept above the clouds. Harsh, naked sunlight streams in through the window beside me. I watch ice crystals forming on the other side of the scolding hot glass. It is all that separates me from the frosty sky outside.
The window frames my view of the world below, partially obscured by that miracle of engineering, the airfoil. Its rivets, slats and flaps are arranged into sharp, geometric, precise lines. They reflect the different hews and colours of the sun, sky, ocean and landscape, gleaming with clean cut precision. Invisible, silent wind currents rush past the airfoil as we gain velocity. Calmness surrounds me, peaceful and still, afloat on an ocean of clouds.
Hard, cold and smooth, the polished surface of high fired Southern Ice porcelain speaks of the sharp edge and curved surface of the airplane wing. I am interested in the simplicity, thinness and clean line achieved by this medium. It enables me to attain, without the application of glaze, a non-porous, aesthetically appealing surface finish with a smooth, velvety feel.
This body of work conveys the feeling of floating inside the belly of technology. Inspiration for the linear decoration comes from having the world framed and packaged by this technology, as the window frames and packages the world below for me and as I am packaged in my seat for the duration of the journey. Teetering on the edge of functionality, the open vessel forms on modular supports seek to express the delicate balance between technological miracle and disaster. A feeling of tantalising danger bordering on fantasy.
As a child, I used to dream of flying. One only has to encase oneself in metal at the local airport to have this modern dream come true. I was a passenger aboard my first flight at the age of 8, on my way from Poland to Australia. Since then this technologically aided journey has taken me to many corners of the globe, including to the US during 2004 - 05 and now to a new home in Edinburgh, Scotland. For me, the airplane has always been a symbol for the anticipation of seeing my extended family again and of the return trip home.
Providing access to new opportunities, freedoms and adventure, air travel has also meant that many young people grow up being physically distant and subsequently feeling disconnected from their extended families. Often taken for granted in western society, this technology serves as a vital link of communication between families who have become dispersed throughout the world. Air travel has changed the shape of our society. This series celebrates the experience of technological flight and question the impact it has had on our lives.
The forms are slip cast Southern Ice Porcelain. I use this porcelain body because of its purity and whiteness and also because it gives a velvet–like surface finish when high fired and polished. The forms are sourced from industrially produced objects, alluding to flight, aerodynamics and motion. The surface treatment comprises of shellac relief as well linear graphic work using a slip inlay technique. The inspiration for the shellac relief decoration comes from my fascination with the change of perspective experienced during the journey, especially as pertaining to urban landscapes.
My influences are very broad, both within and outside of ceramics. The forms are informed by minimalism and design. Artists working primarily in the ceramic medium, whose work I admire, include Bodil Manz, Sueharu Fukami, Bean Finneran, Nicholas Homoky and Wil Broekema. The following sculptors and painters also number among my influences: Susan Cohn, Rosalie Gascoigne, Barbara Hepworth, and Piet Mondrian. My work seeks to draw attention to the technological environment we have built around ourselves and have learned to take for granted.
Emilka Radlinska graduated from the School of Art at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia in 2002 and currently works from her studio at the Glasgow Ceramics Workshop in Glasgow, Scotland. Emilka's work is represented in the exhibition Convergence: A north south discourse at the 2007 National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), 41st Annual Conference Old Currents/New Blends: A Distillation of Art and Geography in Louisville, Kentucky.