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A Magical Student Project That The Brothers Grimm Could Love

Malene Hartmann Rasmussen creates a installation that uses graphic design and ceramic techniques–with a nod to Disney’s Snow White–to charming effect.

Contrary to the title of her thesis project, “If I Had a Heart I Could Love You,” Malene Hartmann Rasmussen has lots of heart — 22 of them, in fact. For London’s Royal College of Art SHOW exhibition, Rasmussen, a master’s student in ceramics and glass, created a dark, dreamy installation that consisted of 613 individual pieces: 22 hearts, 16 flames, 24 branches, 25 leaves, 360 nails made from black clay, 160 wooden planks, a fireplace, a pair of wooden clogs, two snakes, a teapot, and a squirrel.

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But beyond the ambitious scale of the installation, Rasmussen added a graphic element to traditional techniques using a process called ceramic transfer, which applies a screenprint with ceramic colors onto a print that’s transferred to the glazed surface and then fired in the kiln to fuse the print into the glaze. The two snakes in the installation are covered in ceramic transfers, says Rasmussen. “I like the way they seem to ‘soak’ up the pattern from the floor making it into their skin.”

And although every ceramic piece was handmade — as opposed to the faster slipcasting technique more commonly used for large-scale projects like this one — it was really the wooden planks that were the most difficult to perfect, Rasmussen says. She designed the planks with brush and ink, in order to imitate the incised lines of the branches so they would look like they were growing out of the planks. But the twist is that she made the drawing at a smaller size than the actual wall planks, because by blowing up the size, she says, “You get this big-scale, miniature graphic cartoon that looks as if the installation was a big-size doll’s house” — influenced by the diorama aesthetic as much as background paintings from Disney’s Snow White and Pinocchio. The drawings were then scanned into the computer and reworked in Photoshop. The result is that the branches look like they have grown out of the planks, like they were real, but at the same time, Rasmussen says, “having this fake ‘Flintstones’ cartoon-like appearance as if they were fabricated.”

See more of Rasmussen’s work on her website here.

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