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Mantle Overturn: Ben Pyne

Mantle Overturn is an architecture of swatches. Each body of tiles – hand-made and clad to geometric plinths and platforms are intended to be used as seats and contemplated as objects.

These domestic-scale structures made by ceramicist Ben Pyne – suggestive of kitchens, flooring and even coffee tables – are part of a larger body of work in which the artist is developing a ‘New Zealand tile’ which speaks a vernacular language of Aotearoa both visually and materially.

Each tile is a vessel for Pyne’s extensive testing, made using local materials like clay spoil, beef-bones and volcanic rock dust. They demonstrate how undervalued materials and bi-products from our primary industries can be transformed into ceramics that express something of the location or source they are drawn from. And the colours and textures of Mantle Overturn do appear endemic to our land.

The title of the work is taken from a geological process in which the layers between the Earth’s dense super-heated core and its crust swap places. Here, the artist points to the volcanic origins of many of his materials and the transformation they go through in the firing process.

Pyne’s practice explores the ‘potential chemical energy’ contained in raw materials. Mantle Overturn demonstrates his exhaustive pursuit of this research to enrich his ceramic practice. His reconsideration of under-utilised resources through the lens of a craft-based practice makes evident the potential of materials found latent all around us.

Ben Pyne is a designer and ceramicist living and working in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Pyne completed his Bachelor of Visual Arts at Auckland University of Technology in 2012, followed by an Honours degree in Art and Design majoring in Product Design in 2014. Recently Pyne exhibited work as part of Testing Ground at Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui. Pyne is a regular contributor of technical articles to Ceramics NZ magazine.

Objectspace's Courtyard Plinth Commissions are supported by the Jan Warburton Charitable Trust

Ben Pyne, Test tiles for Mantle Overturn, 2022

Ben Pyne, Test tiles for Mantle Overturn, 2022.

Ben Pyne, Test tiles for Mantle Overturn, 2022. Photographs by Sam Hartnett.