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Crossing Material Boundaries

  • David Kaye Gallery 1092 Queen Street West Toronto, Ontario M6J 1H9 Canada (map)

Show of Alexandra McCurdy's 9 porcelain "woven" boxes with accompanying wall pieces.

Ceramic boxes stir curiosity, celebrate women’s roles
Nova Scotia ceramist merges ceramics and textiles to create cubic structures with hidden secrets

Halifax, NS, September XX, 2015 – Halifax ceramist Alexandra McCurdy merges ceramics with textiles to create boxes filled with mystery as part of her new exhibition, Crossing Material Boundaries, running October 1 to 25 at David Kaye Gallery. The exhibit marks McCurdy’s recent induction into the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts after a 50-year career in ceramics.

Crossing Material Boundaries features nine ceramic boxes made from layered lines of coloured clay, or slip, which simulate the warp and the weft of weaving. Seven of the boxes are accompanied by wall pieces that feature similar slip trailed tiles on top of silk-screened backdrops.

“Alexandra’s McCurdy’s containers merge the techniques of textiles and clay, decorative surface and form. We are delighted to bring her boxes to Toronto to celebrate her recent induction to the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts,” said David Kaye, owner of the David Kaye Gallery.

For the boxes, McCurdy wires the ‘woven’ tiles together and embellishes them with coloured computer wire, metallic thread, raffia or other textile symbols such as the spiral, used by women over the centuries.

“The simulation of weaving is another way to celebrate women’s work over the centuries,” said McCurdy. “In these boxes I have deliberately left the ‘inner workings’ to the viewer’s imagination, embellishing the external in an ambiguous way and deliberately leaving the inner workings of the boxes to the viewer’s imagination.”

For most of her professional life as a ceramist, McCurdy has painstakingly created containers decorated with textile and fibre motifs. Mi’kmaq quill boxes, quilts, and hooked rugs which have supplied a rich source of decoration. Transplanting textiles to clay is one way for McCurdy to tell her story – maintaining the illusion of the decorative while pursuing control.

McCurdy explains that the boxes have been compared to Japanese teahouses, Catholic confessionals and Muslim women’s burkas. They intentionally use the feminine principle of containment and enclosure, and are intended as a metaphor for women – decorative on the outside, with substance and secrets hidden within. The boxes also connect conceptually to the hidden potential of Pandora’s Box, the black box of an aircraft – influenced by McCurdy’s pilot father, who was shot down during World War II – and the Perspective Box by Dutch artist Samuel van Hoogstraten.

“I’m combining techniques used in ceramics and textiles to create vessels that push the envelope of traditional ceramics. They challenge the notion that ceramic pieces must always be functional. At the same time, they awaken the viewer’s curiosity. They invite the viewer to wonder ‘what’s inside the box?’”

In recent years, McCurdy has explored the connections between women and craft. Women have traditionally done crafts for functional, practical reasons. The fragmented nature of women’s lives has influenced their technique – forcing them to work in portable components, just like the panels in McCurdy’s boxes.

“Over the years, women have traditionally been responsible for many roles – taking care of children, cooking, homemaking. Component making is often the solution for women artists whose lives are fragmented with children, homemaking and other jobs. It’s a way to work for short periods of time, in between other duties.”

David Kaye Gallery is located at 1092 Queen Street West. For more information about the exhibition, please visit

Alexandra McCurdy ( is a professional ceramist and independent curator living in Halifax, NS and Naples, Florida.

Listings format:
Crossing Material Boundaries
October 1 – 25, 2015
Alexandra McCurdy, Halifax
David Kaye Gallery (

Alexandra McCurdy, ceramist/printmaker/independent curator, works in porcelain making highly decorative, one-of-a-kind, colourful pieces, informed by her longstanding interest in textiles. This exhibition features a series of ceramic boxes made from tiles created out lines of coloured clay. The tiles are fired and wired together with decorative materials to create boxes that are a metaphor for women – using the feminine principal of containment and enclosure, with the inner workings left to the viewer’s imagination.

About the artist:

Alexandra McCurdy, ceramist/printmaker/independent curator, is a graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (BFA), and the Cardiff Institute of Higher Learning in Wales (Masters in 3D Design-Ceramics). She was Associate Curator of Ceramics at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia for six years and has shown her work both nationally and internationally. Her most notable solo exhibitions include The Fabric of Clay: originating at the Burlington Art Gallery in Ontario, which travelled to the Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The Ties that Bind at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo, Ontario, and two solo travelling exhibitions; Mothers/Daughters, which originated at Halifax’s Mary E. Black Gallery, and SOS: Sources of Support, originating at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, which travelled to the Confederation Centre for the Arts, Prince Edward Island, and to the Burlington Art Gallery, Ontario.

McCurdy’s work is in the permanent collections of the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, Italy; the Burlington Art Gallery,the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, the Canadiana Fund and the Royal Ontario Museum, all in Ontario; the Art Bank of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Museum, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Saint Mary's University Art Gallery, the Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council, all in Nova Scotia; the Victoria Art Gallery in British Columbia; the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, in New Brunswick. Her work is in numerous private collections.

Reviews of her work and articles about her career have been included in ceramic-focused periodicals including Ceramics: Art and Perception, American Ceramics, Ceramics Monthly from the US, and Canada’s Contact, Fusion, Arts Atlantic, Ontario Craft, and Visual Arts Nova Scotia.

October/octobre 1-25, 2015

Earlier Event: October 1
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Later Event: October 1
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