This may be a controversial opinion, but in my estimation, it is rather difficult to make vintage ceramics pieces seem exciting in any way. Devotees of Antiques Roadshow might feel differently, but most pieces tend to elicit no more than a begrudging admiration of the craftsmanship involved. One artist’s remixed ceramics interpolations, on the other hand, are shattering any limits about what these figurines are capable of achieving.
Penny Byrne has a way of turning these old-timey porcelain figures into something with a pulse. Using paint and some found objects, Byrne (who, interestingly, also works as a conservator and restorer of ceramics and glass) molds these musty old pieces into art that makes unexpected subversive statements. The Australia-based artist takes a context-free image, such as a row of Southern belles, slathers on some orange jumpsuits, shackles, and blindfolds–and suddenly it’s a statement about Guantanamo Bay.
Your grandmother would be disgusted, but perhaps a bit awed. You should probably call her.
Have a look through more transformed ceramics in the slides above.