VERRE DE TERRE, 2006
Limoges porcelain, brass
134 x 50 x 34 mm
edition of 50, unnumbered
produced by Le Centre Rechercher d'Arte de Feu et Terre (CRAFT), Limoges
$295.00 shipped domestic
$350.00 shipped international
This 'boite' (box) is part of a long tradition of small, hinged porcelain cases from Limoges, France, one of the world's great centers for porcelain production that has served Popes, kings and other high-end decorative arts consumers for the past 1,000 years. The boxes are seldom larger than 120 mm and are normally used to keepsake intimate objects and mementos.
Boites are suitable for almost any subject, and one of the great attractions of their tradition is the challenge of devising an entertaining bestial scenario or trompe l'oeil on such a precious scale. Flowers (especially rosebuds) are common, as are many fruits and vegetables. The most popular subjects, however, are animals of all sizes, from elephants and tigers to bumblebees and toads. As far as I know, no porcelain artist has ever chosen to celebrate lumbricus terrestris, the common earthworm. There are poets, however, who have chosen to honor this beautiful, ambiguous creature, one of whom is the American poet Ann Sexton:
by Ann Sexton
Slim inquirer, while the old fathers sleep
you are reworking their soil, you have
a grocery store there down under the earth
and it is well stocked with broken wine bottles,
old cigars, old door knobs and earth,
that great brown flour that you kiss each day.
There are dark stars in the cool evening and
you fondle them like killer birds' beaks.
But what I want to know is why when small boys
dig you up for curiosity and cut you in half
why each half lives and crawls away as if whole.
Have you no beginning and end? Which heart is
the real one? Which eye the seer? Why
is it in the infinite plan that you would
be severed and rise from the dead like a gargoyle
with two heads?