Collection

Sonia Labouriau (1956 - )

Rose for Heraclitus (1995)


height: 18cm
width: 58cm
Sculpture

Donated by Sonia Labouriau 1995

83-1995

Sonia Labouriau works with clay to mark the passage of time in works that either designate or are activated by natural forces such as water, fire and gravity. In some cases she casts works in compacted clay and powder which gradually disintegrate over time; in others she uses urucum flour to model pieces which then dissolve when laid on a surface coated with water, and not even the original colour of the urucum seed remains. Rose of Heraclitus is activated by fire – alcohol is poured into the ceramic sculpture and lit. In Heraclitus’ philosophy, fire is the prime element, unifying the things in the world which are separated by opposites. Fire is partly identifiable with Logos, the common characteristic of all natural objects. Fire and Logos, ensure the ultimate balance and continuity of changes between opposites.

Rose of Heraclitus was specifically made by the artist in collaboration with local potters for the Collection of Latin American Art on the occasion of the exhibition Continuum, Brazilian art, 1960-1990 at the University Gallery.

Paula Terra Cabo
Gabriela Salgado, 2000




Sonia Labouriaus’ Rose for Heraclitus, was made in collaboration with local potters especially for the exhibition Continuum, Brazilian art, 1960-1990, curated by University of Essex PhD student Paula Terra Cabo in 1995. It was exhibited again at the University in the Albert Sloman Library in Outros 500, a show organised by the former ESCALA curator Gabriela Salgado in 2000 to mark 500 years of the arrival of the first Europeans in Brazil. The exhibition catalogue produced in the latter draws out details from Labouriau’s process and the dialogues that her artworks establish with ancient philosophical notions of cosmic order.

Sonia Labouriau works with clay to mark the passage of time in works that either designate or are activated by natural forces such as water, fire and gravity. In some cases she casts works in compacted clay and powder which gradually disintegrate over time; in others she uses urucum flour to model pieces which then dissolve when laid on a surface coated with water, and not even the original red colour of the urucum seeds remains. Rose for Heraclitus is activated by fire – alcohol poured into the ceramic sculpture and lit. In Heraclitus’ philosophy, fire is the prime element, unifying the things in the world which are separated by opposites. Fire is partly identifiable with Logos, the common characteristic of all natural objects. Fire and Logos, ensure the ultimate balance and continuity of changes between opposites.1

Exhibited on campus for the third time, the work now converses with other ideas, materials and geographies. A rose rendered in clay, the object intersects subterranean matter and plants that rise from it, seeking out the light of the sun. Like the elemental fire already referenced in the piece, the sun is another fiery presence in the cosmos, one that can make life flourish through the energy it provides or stunt it if temperatures rise excessively. That fragile balance and the threat of imbalance are perhaps what we might intuit from the charred residues that have been left on Labouriau’s rose.

These traces speak to the fragility of the world around us and the piece itself, reminding us that artworks are material beings which – like plant and human life – require careful preservation for them to endure over time. As well as a prompt to recognise the ephemerality of plant life and the conditions needed for it to flourish, Rose for Heraclitus also stands as a testament to the vocation of care of the many people involved in ESCALA over the years who have worked to enliven the Collection and keep it fresh in the minds of the University’s communities.

(Text taken from the exhibition catalogue for Gone to Ground, 2019)

Blackmore, Lisa, 2019

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