Mags Harries (Welsh/American, b. 1945)
Seventeen-piece ceramic installation, largest to 11 3/4 x 8 1/2 in. (29.8 x 21.6 cm).
Condition: Minor breaks, losses.
Exhibition: Mags Harries: September 26-November 7, 1982, De Cordova Museum, Lincoln, MA.
Literature: Mags Harries: September 26-November 7, 1982 [exhibition catalog], De Cordova Museum, Lincoln, MA. illus.
N.B. Cambridge-based artist Mags Harries drew wide acclaim in the late 70s/mid-80s for her site-specific public sculptures "Asaroton" at Boston's Haymarket and "Glove Cycle" at Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority's Porter Square station. These works immortalized the cast-offs of daily life via the permanence of the bronze medium, and engaged the past and present history of the place and its users. In his essay, "Ruinic Ruins: Mags Harries' Archaeology of the Present," Donald Kuspit uses the term "artifactualization" to describe the way that Harries captures the cultural practices of a space in time. The present work-Harries' first privately-commissioned site-specific sculpture-is also amongst her earliest. Ceramic was Harries' original chosen medium, and was particularly apt for the subject of her early work-domestic interiors and private spaces. Mantelpiece was created for a Victorian fireplace updated in white. As a result, the chocolate-box assortment of objects that Harries depicted occupies a fluctuating context-they are at once modern and Victorian, minimal and cluttered, objective and sentimental, machined and handmade, useful and useless. The 'whiteness' of the objects ultimately bridges these polarities by evoking a sense of time stopped-objects that signify communication and the passage of time are completely blanched and "fossilized." As a whole, the assemblage presented can be understood as a memento mori-asking us to consider our own mortality in the face of obsolescence-but also as a reflection on the history and practice of collecting-how we live (and have lived) with objects in our daily lives.
The losses are tiny, and almost exclusively to glazes (or to paint on non-ceramic elements such as the phone cord and clock hands).