Land Mermaids (you know who you are) everywhere will be delighted to come across ceramic dinnerware that crawl and bloom with ocean life. Originally from New York and now based in London, Mary O’Malley’s nautical sculptures bring the salty sea to your table. Glossy glazed, white bowls and teapots accented with brilliant gold rims explode with red. Red lobsters, red coral, red seaweed, snails and crabs forcibly possess the delicate saucers with complex detail. Teeny crab legs and plant stems seem to sprout everywhere about the teacups. Raw, organic forms clash and contrast with the clean and pure forms that are formal porcelain pottery.
“Covering formal ware in crustaceans – which in real life have an unforgiving ferocity – has interested me because it is a reminder that no matter how much we try to control the creation of what we think is beautiful, uncontrollable forces like nature usually end up taking over. But what truly excites me (and keeps me needing to make more) is marrying my love of functional porcelain pottery and a whimsical (or ferocious?) underwater world that mars the formality of each piece. “∼ Mary O’Malley
Mary has been involved in ceramics almost her whole life, which shows in how she hand sculpts a fragile medium into the tiniest and most effortless, nautical forms. Because Mary’s sculptures are so complicated, the difficulty of this task is inflated. Finely crafted octopus tentacles tangle with barnacles that are fired and then painted a rusty red. The various crustaceans used in her porcelain sculptures reflect her childhood memories living on the coast. In her work the theme, we can see all around us — trees and vines breaking through abandoned buildings… shines through; nature prevails.
Mary O’Malley has now increased the difficulty of her craft; she is currently creating new work “False Threats” based around porcelain and glass insect sculptures.