Major Magdalene Odundo ceramics exhibition opens at Sainsbury Centre

Magdalene Odundo stands with her installation Transition II as part of The Journey of Things exhibit

Magdalene Odundo stands with her installation Transition II as part of The Journey of Things exhibition on show at the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich, Norfolk. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Magdalene Odundo OBE is one of the world's most esteemed artists working in the field of ceramics and a new Sainsbury Centre exhibition will celebrate her work.

Magdalene Odundo, 1986 Credit: Magdalene Odundo

Magdalene Odundo, 1986 Credit: Magdalene Odundo - Credit: Archant

This major exhibition will bring together more than 50 of Odundo's works which will be shown alongside a large selection of objects chosen by Odundo from across the globe and spanning over 3,000 years, to reveal the rich and diverse range of objects and making traditions that have informed the development of her own work.

The exhibition will situate Odundo's work at the heart of a constellation of objects that she has drawn inspiration from - British studio pottery by Hans Coper and Lucy Rie, ancient vessels from Greece and Egypt, historic ceramics from Africa, Asia and Central America, figurative sculpture and objects from across the African continent, Elizabethan costume and textiles as well as contemporary works including Yinka Shonibare and El Anatsui.

There will also be sculptures by modern artists including Auguste Rodin, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Edgar Degas whose approaches to depicting forms have long been an inspiration for Odundo and highlight the primary importance of the human body as a reference within her work.

Over 30 of these objects are from the Sainsbury Centre collection.

Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre. Credit: Andy Crouch

Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre. Credit: Andy Crouch - Credit: Archant


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The Sainsbury Centre will also showcase Transition II, Odundo's largest work, made up of 1,001 individual suspended glass pieces.

Presented in the context of Odundo's ceramic practice, and redesigned site-specifically each time it is shown, Transition II will be presented in a sweeping crescendo, suggesting flowing water or a murmuration of starlings.

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Odundo made this work during a residency at the National Glass Centre in 2014 in, collaboration with glassblower James Maskrey.

Tania Moore, exhibition curator, said: "Magdalene Odundo is one of the most exciting artists working in ceramics today and we are excited to bring her work to the Sainsbury Centre where studio ceramics from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are so important to our collection.

Asymmetrical Reduced Black Piece by Magdalene Odundo, 1992, Crafts Council Collection Credit: Courte

Asymmetrical Reduced Black Piece by Magdalene Odundo, 1992, Crafts Council Collection Credit: Courtesy of the Crafts Council - Credit: Archant

"One of the most breath-taking elements of the exhibition is Transition II, which Odundo and Adjaye Associates have dramatically reconfigured especially for the Sainsbury Centre to reflect the incredible sights of flocking birds in the East Anglian landscape."

Born in Kenya in 1950, Odundo moved to the UK in 1971 to attend art school and after choosing ceramics as a preferred medium, Odundo travelled to Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria to study their ceramic traditions.

Her desire to learn about vernacular crafts has brought her across the globe to Europe, Africa, Asia and Central America.

This journeying has led to her exploration of her own diasporic identity and the charged role that objects have played, and continue to play, in intercultural relationships today.

Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre Credit: Andy Crouch

Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre Credit: Andy Crouch - Credit: Archant

The exhibition is designed by Adjaye Associates and British architect, Sir David Adjaye OBE is a leading architect of his generation.

He has created important buildings such as the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Idea Stores,

London and the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO.

He is also known for collaborations with contemporary artists on exhibitions and installations and artists he has collaborated with include Olafur Eliasson, Julie Mehretu, Chris Ofili and James Turrell.

The exhibition comes to the Sainsbury Centre from The Hepworth Wakefield where it was designed by Farshid Moussavi OBE.

The collaboration between architect, artist and architecture adds another crucial dimension to the interdisciplinary exhibition.

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication produced by The Hepworth Wakefield with support from the Paul Mellon Centre.

It includes an interview between Magdalene Odundo and poet and novelist Ben Okri, an introductory essay by Andrew Bonacina and essays by John Mack, professor of World Art Studies at the University of East Anglia and Tania Moore, curator at the Sainsbury Centre.

Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things is at The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts until December 15.

Tickets cost £13 and £12 concessions with free entry for SCVA members, UEA and NUA student members.

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