Three years ago today was the opening of “Genius loci: spirit of place” of Rachel Grimshaw (UK) AIR 2017. Rachel wanted to use local clay, so armed with Paolo Porelli’s recollection of where he had sourced clay some 20 years earlier, we set off for the Valle dell’Inferno (Valley of Hell). After hours of aimless walking and then exploring an early 20th-century village for kiln-workers, we came upon a construction site for a mall beside the chimney of the Veschi kiln, the sole surviver of what was once an active industry for the production of bricks. There, Paolo was able to identify a vein of clay which Rachel then utilised.
“The aim of this residency has been to create work which I could only have made in Rome. Inspired by the combination of brickwork and marble within the Roman ruins, I have used locally dug clay, contrasted with porcelain. The impressing of locally sourced objects into these solid forms hint at references to fluted classical columns and the worn and broken fragments in the Portico d’Ottavia. Ultimately, my work is about the clay; its pliable, immediate qualities. Like a photograph capturing a ‘frozen moment’ this material when fired fixes forever a gesture, an impression. In pushing the material to its limits my wish is to explore three dimensions while retaining a real sense of the qualities of clay.”