Statement by Yuta Segawa
I am pleased to present Failure and Practice, an online exhibition of experimental works by SGW Lab and me.
Before I provide details about this exhibition, I want to comment on SGW Lab. SGW Lab was founded in London in 2018 to expand the scale of my personal work production and to expand the possibilities of production. Currently, there are 6 full-time staff members, including myself. In order to work with others, even in a small group, it is necessary to explain various things that are sensuously grasped when produced by an individual artist. The most important of these is the significance of making things in the 21st century with less productive and inaccurate handwork than machines. It's difficult to explain this, even if I can feel it as an individual. William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement were a big hint for me to think about it.
SGW Lab has a slogan: "The Art of people". It is the title of a lecture that William Morris delivered in 1879 at the Birmingham Society of Arts and School of Design. Morris explained the importance of craftsmanship in the social situation in which the Industrial Revolution was unfolding, with the phrase: "Art which is to be made by the people and for the people, as a happiness to the maker and the user." He led the Arts and Crafts movement, seeing art as an expression of pleasure in human labour.
In the 21st century, the significance of handicrafts has been greatly undermined by the development of the Internet, artificial intelligence (AI) and industrial machines. In this era, the significance of craftsmanship, in other words, the worth of human labour, is being questioned again. Thus, it makes sense to rethink Morris's idea: "Art which is to be made by the people and for the people, as a happiness to the maker and the user".
The mission of SGW LAB is to think about the significance of craftsmanship in the context of Morris, to believe in the worth of human labour and to explore and practice the beautiful possibilities created by handicrafts.
Online Exhibition 19.5 is SGW Lab's first experimental exhibition that started with such an idea. Every day in the studio, unintended and unsuccessful works are produced. It may be distorted by the potter's wheel; the glaze may be applied too thickly and it may flow during firing, or it may simply be dropped from the table and cracked. The more we try to bring out the charm of the material, as much as possible, and the more we try to get it closer to the desirable shape, the more we have to face the possibility of failure.
Craftsmanship is not simply the value of delicate handicrafts. The purpose of this exhibition is to confront the mistakes that occur in the studio, to observe the materials every day and find beauty even in the accidents being produced, and to display the results of various experiments taking advantage of the opportunity afforded by the mistakes. One of the important facts of the value of craft is that the body and the material can come into contact with each other in various ways during production and can be tried and errored.
The exhibit introduces about 90 experimental works, such as miniature pots that have been damaged due to glaze flowing and re-fired on a pedestal, and the mug “distortion” series, which was intentionally distorted due to uneven thickness at the stage of casting.