The six pieces are Totem Head, Totem Figurine, Totem Vessel Head, Totem Head, Totem Face and Totem Jug. They were all created in 2017–19 and were included in Cathrine Raben Davidsen’s solo exhibition ‘TOTEM’ at CLAY in 2020. The exhibition title refers to the totem as a symbol of a clan or community. Raben Davidsen is inspired by religious traditions such as animism and totemism that are based on the interconnectedness of all living things. The pieces have symbolic colours, including red, black, gold and white, which refer to power, rebirth and change. The gold glaze symbolizes the alchemistic aspect of ceramic glaze processes and represents the ultimate transformation.

Collaboration with Royal Copenhagen

The six pieces are stoneware and porcelain. In her two-year collaboration with Royal Copenhagen, Raben Davidsen had access to the factory facilities and was able to discuss her ideas with experienced chemists who have access to old glaze recipes and possess in-depth expertise with the manufacture of porcelain and stoneware. Initially, Raben Davidsen painted on vessels designed by the factory. Subsequently, she worked with potter Bjarne Puggaard to define and create her own forms with references to prehistoric forms from South America and central and northern Europe. In this collaboration with Puggaard and Royal Copenhagen, Raben Davidsen created a total of 150 pieces, including vases, jugs, lidded vessels and dishes in a wide range of sizes and shapes.

Different working processes, same originality

The chemical work with glazes differs from painting, as glazes require the artist to relinquish control. Colours and textures vary with the firing, and in the kiln, anything can happen. There is no way to be sure about the outcome until the firing is completed.

Raben Davidsen’s ceramics feature the same imagery that characterizes her general practice. The recurring animal and human figures from her paintings and drawings also emerge in the ceramic glaze in the form of small engraved faces that, like her paintings, evoke an almost magical sense of timelessness and ephemerality.

About Cathrine Raben Davidsen

Cathrine Raben Davidsen (b. 1972) graduated from the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen in 2003. Prior to her this, she took extended stays at Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence and Vrije Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten in The Hague. In addition to her visual art practice she has also created costumes and set designs for the Royal Danish Ballet. She has exhibited widely in Denmark and abroad and is represented in a number of Danish museums, including SMK – National Gallery of Denmark, Horsens Art Museum and Trapholt, and at the Danish Arts Foundation.