Halima Cassell at Manchester Art Gallery

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After a busy week in Ireland, the day after my return we headed into Manchester. We had tickets for the production of Mother Courage at the Royal Exchange and had booked a pre-birthday meal in a restaurant in the Northern Quarter, and decided to drive in during the afternoon to visit the City Art Gallery. There was a lengthy queue for the Leonardo exhibition, so we decided to give it a miss. It would have taken up all the time we had and we’d probably have chance to see it on another day before it leaves Manchester and we wanted to have a look at another exhibition that had just opened in the Gallery.

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Halima Cassell is a sculptor who was born in Kashmir but grew up in the north west of England  and currently lives in Shropshire. She creates complex geometric patterns in unglazed ceramic, bronze, stone, wood and cast glass. I’d seen one of her works during a visit to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery last year and there were a couple of works on display last time we were at the Manchester Gallery (they were preparing for the exhibition) and we were keen to see this large scale display of her works.

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Her sculptures are incredibly complex geometric patterns that, in many cases, are clearly inspired by nature.

Cassell is gifted with an exceptional ability to visualise complex patterns and mentally project them on to 3-D objects. Her work is diverse in inspiration and form, but her personal style is instantly recognisable due to her bold, energetic designs, crisp carving and intuitive understanding of how to integrate pattern, form, material and scale. (exhibition website)

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Looking at the works I couldn’t help wondering whether she ever made a mistake with her carving (just imaging spending hours on a complex carving then at the very end slipping with the chisel !!) or if something went wrong with th efiring. Well these things, particularly the latter, clearly happen. One of the exhibits was a piece of a cast ceramic that had exploded in the kiln. and she has also embraced problems where cracks can develop in castings by using a Japanese technique where gold is used to fill the cracks, thereby turning a potential disaster into a creative work of art.

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One work, still in progress, was Virtue of Unity a display of ceramics using clay collected from different countries, the patterns embodying some perceived characteristic of the nation.

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Her intention is that, when it’s complete the work will represent every nation on earth. There’s a long way to go yet!

Her work is amazing and as the exhibition is on until the beginning of January next year it’s pretty certain we’ll be going to see it again.

Halima Cassell: Eclectica–global inspirations from Manchester Art Gallery on Vimeo.

9 thoughts on “Halima Cassell at Manchester Art Gallery

  1. Something about the patterns reminds me of the intricate patterns found in Kashmiri rugs. It is gorgeous work. Oh how awful it would be, indeedy, to have a slip of the carving tool just as you’re about to finish!

  2. Oh! That’s fantastic. You just made my day. Another artist I’ve never heard of before (like the German photographer and the Irish painter from previous posts), but in this case something really clicked! Art, geometry and nature – what a potent mix. I had no plans to visit Manchester any time soon, but now…

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