Contributed by Ann Proctor
This ceramic sculpture represents a long friendship with the Vietnamese ceramic artist and museum professional, Nguyễn Khắc Quân.
Quân was born in Bát Tràng in 1962 where his family ran a large ceramics workshop. He was hired by the National Fine Arts Museum, Hâ Nội, in 1980 to help in their ceramics department. He has continued to work at the museum, where he is now head curator. He makes ceramics in his spare time in his studio at his house.
Much of Quân’s work has to do with rivers, faces and emotions and in this piece, the heroic role of women. The basic form is of a large saggar, a utilitarian piece of kiln furniture in which smaller pieces would have been fired. He uses this elemental form of the saggar as the basis for this sculpture of a human breast that has been carved around the lower part with the appealing faces of babies. A rice ash glaze oozes down from the nipple at the top, nourishing future generations of children. Quân’s work addresses personal as well as universal issues, as he made this work as part of many focussing on birth and procreation following the arrival of his own two daughters.