Lot 7
  • 7

Alexander Macdonald-Buchanan

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  • Alexander Macdonald-Buchanan
  • Energy 2
  • glazed ceramic
  • 389 by 69 by 69cm.
  • 153 by 27 by 27 in.

Catalogue Note

Energy 2 is part of Alexander Macdonald-Buchanan’s Quest series. It is a body of work that explores the relationship between physical strength and mental energy. As the artist explains: ‘The Energy series portrays not only our physical power but also the intense mental energy that underpins our ability to be dynamic, creative, passionate, single minded and to possess mental strength. It seemed appropriate that a twist form (which has potential energy inherently locked into the structure), together with the vibrant matt blue glaze would be a powerful symbol of these facets’ (quoted in Quest, Sculptural Ceramics by Alexander Macdonald-Buchanan, June 2016, p. 4). 

Macdonald-Buchanan’s message is amplified by the vivid blue colouring and the monumental scale of this work; both elements demonstrate the importance of craftsmanship and technical expertise in his œuvre as well as the ambitious personal journey that lies at the heart of the Quest series. He adopted a rare technique, pioneered by Austrian-born British studio potter Lucie Rie in the 1960s, of mixing the highly reactive coloured oxides directly into the clay; these then melt into the glaze during the firing process allowing a greater integration of clay and glaze and creating the matt intensity of colour seen in the present work (as discussed by Professor Nigel Wood in ‘Some Encounters with the Artist’, ibid., p. 6). 

Macdonald-Buchanan also had to overcome a number of challenges when realising his vision of monumental ceramics, as the potential difficulties of constructing and firing escalate in proportion to the scale of the work. Despite some early setbacks, he eventually perfected the painstaking process required for successful firings on this scale. As Professor Nigel Wood wrote: 'Nowadays there is a tendency for artists and potters to subcontract the making of giant ceramics. However, it has been part of Alexander’s vision that all aspects of making, drying and firing should be his own responsibility and under his own control.  Optimism and vision prevailed, and the result is a series of glazed forms that stand both for the resilience and aspirations of the artist, and as remarkable creations in their own right' (N. Wood, ibid., p. 7).